Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt, Pau Gasol

Madrid 2020 gathers Spanish sports stars to promote bid before IOC vote

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Madrid is getting serious about the Sept. 7 vote for the host city of the 2020 Olympics, bringing in the country’s most famous sports stars to endorse its candidacy.

Basketball player Pau Gasol, tennis player Rafael Nadal, soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo (who is Portuguese but plays for Real Madrid) and retired cyclist Miguel Indurain recently filmed a promotional video, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

Gasol, who recently attended the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, is expected to be on hand in Buenos Aires for the International Olympic Committee vote Sept. 7. IOC members will choose from among Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul to be the host city of the 2020 Olympics.

Nadal may be there, too, according to Benabeu Digital, pending his performance at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday. The men’s final is Sunday, Sept. 8.

Gasol was Spain’s flag bearer at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. A three-time Olympian, he helped Spain to silver medals in 2008 and 2012.

Nadal made his Olympic debut at age 18 in 2004, playing doubles with Carlos Moya. He didn’t medal until 2008, winning men’s singles gold, and missed the 2012 Olympics due to injury.

Ronaldo played for Portugal at the 2004 Olympics at age 19. The Portuguese were beaten by Iraq and didn’t make it out of group play.

Indurain, the five-time Tour de France champion from 1991 to 1995, competed in two Olympics separated by 12 years. He won gold in the time trial at the 1996 Games, where Lance Armstrong finished sixth two months before he was diagnosed with cancer.

Isinbayeva slams hometown

U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics