Sochi 2014 names first torchbearer for Olympic torch relay

Leave a comment

The first Sochi Olympic torchbearer will be an Alpine skier.

As is custom, a Greek athlete has the honors. Ioannis Antoniou, 18, will carry the torch in Olympia, Greece, on Sept. 29, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday.

The flame will reach Russia on Oct. 7, four months before the opening ceremony, and travel about 40,000 miles, the longest relay in Winter Olympic history. It will run through more than 2,900 towns and settlements (and go into space Nov. 7) via more than 14,000 torch bearers in car, plane, train and reindeer sleigh.

Here’s more detail on what will happen in Olympia on Sept. 29, via Olympic.org:

The ceremony will see several ‘priestesses’ perform a traditional celebration at the Temple of Hera in which the torch will be kindled by the light of the sun using a parabolic mirror.

Antoniou, the son of two physical education teachers, has been skiing since age 4. He finished 75th in the giant slalom at the 2013 World Championships (Greece is not an Alpine ski power).

Greece has sent at least one Alpine skier to every Olympics beginning with 1964, its best finish a 23rd by Vassilis Dimitriadis in the men’s slalom in 2006, according to sports-reference.com. Dimitriadis was the first torchbearer for the 2010 Olympic torch relay. Greece has never won a medal at the Winter Games.

“The Olympic torch relay is one of the most important and magical Olympic occasions,” said Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of Sochi 2014, on Olympic.org. “It continues the build-up of excitement ahead of the Games and, as well as spreading the Olympic values to the whole country. We will be creating, as a nation, an important part of Russian history.”

How Ovechkin will go to Greece and back for NHL game

Six more Olympic medalists stripped in Beijing 2008 retests

BEIJING - AUGUST 08:  The Olympic flame is lit by Li Ning, former Olympic gymnast for China, during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Nine more athletes, including six medal winners, were retroactively disqualified from the 2008 Beijing Olympics on Wednesday after failing retests of their doping samples.

The International Olympic Committee announced the decisions in the latest sanctions imposed on athletes whose stored samples came back positive after being retested with improved methods.

Four athletes were stripped of silver medals and two of bronze medals in weightlifting, wrestling and women’s steeplechase. All six athletes come from former Soviet countries — Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — and all tested positive for steroids.

The IOC stores doping samples for 10 years to allow them to be reanalyzed when enhanced techniques become available. The IOC recorded a total of 98 positive cases in recent resting of samples from Beijing and the 2012 London Olympics.

Stripped of silver medals Wednesday were freestyle wrestlers Soslan Tigiev of Uzbekistan (66-74 kilogram division) and Taimuraz Tigiyev of Kazakhstan (84-96 kg) and weightlifters Olha Korobka of Ukraine (75 kg) and Andrei Rybakov of Belarus (85 kg).

It’s the second time Tigiev has been stripped of an Olympic medal for doping. He lost his bronze medal from the 74 kg event at the London Games after failing a drug test.

The IOC stripped Beijing bronze medals on Wednesday from Russian steeplechaser Ekaterina Volkova and Belarusian weightlifter Anastasia Novikova (53 kg).

The IOC asked the international weightlifting, wrestling and track and field federations to modify the Olympic results and consider any further sanctions against the athletes. Decisions on reallocating the medals have not been finalized.

The IOC said all six medalists tested positive for the steroid turinabol. Rybakov and Novikova also tested positive for stanozolol. Both substances are traditional steroids with a history dating back decades. The new IOC tests used a technique that could detect the use of those drugs going back weeks and months, rather than just days.

Also disqualified Wednesday were Cuba’s Wilfredo Martinez, who finished fifth in the men’s long jump; Nigerian-born Spaniard Josephine Onyia, who was eliminated in the semifinals of the women’s 100-meter hurdles; and weightlifter Sardar Hasanov of Azerbaijan, who competed but did not finish in the men’s 62-kg division.

The IOC said Hasanov tested positive for turinabol, Martinez for the diuretic and masking agent acetazolamide, and Onyia for the stimulant methylhexanamine.

Last week, the IOC announced that Russian weightlifter Apti Aukhadov had been stripped of his silver medal from the London Olympics on Tuesday after testing positive for turinabol and drostanolone.

VIDEO: Yao Ming reflects on Beijing Olympics

Sweden swimmer Therese Alshammar retires after record 6 Olympics

Therese Alshammar
Getty Images
1 Comment

Sweden’s Therèse Alshammar, who in Rio became the first woman to swim in six Olympics, will retire after one more domestic meet next week, according to Swedish reports.

Alshammar, 39, cited injury problems, including her back (where she has the word “Diva” tattooed, reportedly to remind her not to be a diva), in preventing her from continuing in the sport, according to Dagnes Nyheter.

She debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games at age 18, two years after her first world championships.

Alshammar won three Olympic medals, all at the 2000 Sydney Games. She finished second to Dutchwoman Inge de Bruijn in the 50m and 100m freestyles and helped Sweden’s 4x100m free relay to bronze.

Alshammar reportedly became the oldest woman to win a world title at age 33 in 2011 (50m free).

Alshammar carried Sweden’s flag into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony and reached the 50m free semifinals, three years after giving birth to son Fred.

MORE: Gold medalist swimmer gets mole removed after heads-up from fan