Past Soviet Olympic champions to hockey team: ‘Don’t let Russia down’

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How’s this for added pressure on Russia’s Olympic Hockey Team?

A group of 16 past Russian Olympic champions posted an open letter on the nation’s hockey federation website with a clear message.

“The whole country will cheering and fearing for you,” it read, according to an R-Sport translation. “In our time, we did everything for victory, we brought glory to the USSR, our people and our sport. Don’t let Russia down, guys! We are behind you and we are with you!”

Russia has not won an Olympic hockey medal since a bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and it has never won Olympic gold. The Soviet Union won all but two Olympic hockey tournaments from 1956 through 1988, and the Unified Team won gold in 1992.

The men’s hockey gold might be the most coveted medal for the host nation come February, just as at the Vancouver Games. The home-ice advantage will certainly help Russia. Neither Canada nor the U.S. won medals at the last two Olympics held outside North America (1998 and 2006).

Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak, the legendary Soviet goalie who was one of the group of 16, made an interesting comment about the roster deadline.

This would give Hockey Canada more time to gauge Steven Stamkos‘ return from injury and for the U.S., Canada and Russia to sort out their goalie situations, too.

Brodeur plays way into Olympic conversation

Jan Frodeno eyes unprecedented Olympic-Ironman double (video)

Jan Frodeno
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On Saturday, Jan Frodeno will attempt to become the first triathlete to win an Olympic title and an Ironman World Championship.

The German 2008 Olympic champion finished third in his debut at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, one year ago. So he’s already in a class of his own, the only triathlete to win Olympic gold and finish on the podium in Kailua-Kona.

On Saturday, Frodeno will go up against defending champion and countryman Sebastian Kienle and the 2013 winner, Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium.

Frodeno is arguably the favorite, given he trounced Kienle by nearly 12 minutes and Van Lierde by nearly 18 minutes in triple-digit heat at the Ironman European Championships on July 5 in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Ironman triathlon includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon. It took Frodeno 8 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds to complete in 2014. Apolo Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time, also completed the 2014 Ironman World Championships in an impressive time.

The Olympic triathlon includes a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run. It took Frodeno 1 hour, 48 minutes, 53 seconds to complete in 2008.

On the women’s side, Australian Mirinda Carfrae is going for her third straight title in Kailua-Kona. Carfrae’s marathon time in 2013 (2:50:38) was the third fastest of the day, among women and men. Her marathon time in 2014 (2:50:26) was the fifth fastest of the day, among women and men.

VIDEO: Watch Apolo Ohno’s Ironman feature

Victor Oladipo may play for Nigeria at Rio Olympics

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Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who scrimmaged in a Team USA jersey in August, may want to play for Nigeria at the Rio Olympics, should he not be chosen for the U.S. team next summer, according to

The Maryland-born Oladipo’s parents are Nigerian.

“Playing in the Olympics is definitely a dream, but I’ll worry about it when the time comes,” Oladipo said, according to the website. “Whatever [Olympic] opportunity appears on the table, it will be about making the right decision that’s best for me.”

Oladipo, 23, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Indiana and scored 17.9 points per game last season.

In August, he was one of 34 players named on a USA Basketball roster for a camp deemed mandatory for Olympic participation.

But he hasn’t played in major international competition for the U.S., so he is eligible to switch to Nigeria, according to USA Basketball.

The final U.S. Olympic team may not be chosen until late June — a little more than one month before the Olympics — and will include 12 players, and the competition to be one of four or five guards is deep. London Olympians James HardenChris Paul and Russell Westbrook were on the camp roster, as were 2014 FIBA World Cup guards Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving, plus John Wall.

In 2014, Oladipo said playing on the U.S. Olympic team was a lifelong dream and that he realistically hoped to make it for the 2020 Olympics, according to

“Isn’t that every little kid’s dream? For me to be a part of that team, it would be a blessing,” Oladipo said, according to the website. “That’s something that I have added to my goals list, and I want to keep working and getting better.”

Both the U.S. and Nigeria are already qualified for the Olympic men’s basketball tournament, along with seven other teams.

Nigeria won the African Olympic qualifying tournament in August, led by 2012 Olympian Al-Farouq Aminu, an Atlanta-born Portland Trail Blazers forward who also has Nigerian parents.

African nations have lost 25 straight Olympic men’s basketball games to non-African nations, the last win coming by Angola over South Korea in the 11th-place game at Atlanta 1996.

For 2012, Tunisia won the African qualifying tournament for the London Olympics, while Nigeria was the last of 12 nations into the Olympic tournament by placing third in a global, last-chance qualifying tournament.

In London, Nigeria beat Tunisia 60-56 in the first game of the Olympic tournament. Nigeria went on to lose to the U.S. 156-73 in group play, marking the biggest U.S. men’s margin of victory in Olympic history.

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