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Toronto interest in 2024 Olympic bid

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A likely U.S. bid for the 2024 Olympics might be rivaled north of the border, but a leading Canadian Olympic official believes a North American city would have a better chance in 2028.

“The way IOC does it, the games go to Europe, the Americas and then somewhere else,” Paul Henderson, former International Olympic Committee member and the Toronto 1996 bid chief, told the Toronto Sun. “And what most people don’t realize is that the IOC considers North and South America the same continent. Now there are always funny things once in a while that change that, but normally that’s the thought process.”

Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Olympics. Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics. If a European city doesn’t win the 2024 Olympics, it will mark the longest stretch between hosting Summer Games for the continent ever, if Moscow 1980 is counted as a European Games.

Toronto came in second place in 2008 bidding, losing to Beijing, and third place in 1996, losing to Atlanta.

The Canadian Olympic Committee began looking into a possible Toronto bid in the 2020s in 2007.

The Toronto city council voted to investigate a 2024 Olympic bid in June 2012.

Canada’s largest city could look to follow in the footsteps of Rio de Janeiro, which hosted the 2007 Pan American Games and won the bidding for the 2016 Olympics two years later.

Toronto will host the 2015 Pan American Games. The IOC will choose the 2024 Olympics host in 2017.

“It could be a stepping stone to the Olympic Games,” then-IOC president Jacques Rogge told CBC in May 2012. “We’ve seen it with Rio, who organized the Pan American Games before being awarded the Olympic Games. I think that’s the same example. To stage well, a big event, that’s important because the Pan American Games is a big event. To stage it well would give a brand to Toronto that they are ready for other organizations.”

USOC won’t narrow down 2024 bid city list until after Sochi

Ragan Smith delivers in first U.S. championship title win

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ragan Smith embraced the role of heavy favorite coming into the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her career, the 17-year-old hardly appeared intimidated by the stage. Smith pulled away from the field to claim her first national title Sunday, posting a score of 115.250, more than three points clear of Jordan Chiles in second place and Riley McCusker in third.

Smith opened up a 1.3-point lead over McCusker in the opening round Friday but admitted afterward she wasn’t particularly impressed by her own performance. She was considerably sharper less than 48 hours later, her 57.850 total in the finals was the best in the 16-woman all-around field by nearly two points.

Smith is one of the few holdovers from the 2016 Olympic cycle, serving as an alternate for the “Final Five” team that won half of the available medals in Rio de Janeiro last fall. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez are taking breaks or have moved on, leaving Smith as the standard bearer for new national team coordinator Valeri Liukin.

The program appears to be in solid hands. Smith ditched “The Addams Family” themed floor routine she used last year for something a little more mature. It’s not the only part of her gymnastics that has grown up. Smith finished first on floor and beam and tied for third on bars.

Smith will be in the mix for the all-around title at the world championships in Montreal, where she’ll have a chance to extend the U.S.’s dominance. An American woman has won the world or Olympic title each of the last six years. Barring injury, Smith should be right there.

Liukin said he wasn’t alarmed following an uneven performance by the field in preliminaries, calling it a positive step for a group lacking in experience. The gymnastics were markedly improved in the finals.

Chiles slipped by McCusker into second thanks to a fabulous save on beam in which she turned a near disaster into something decidedly artful.

Chiles was in the middle of “wolf turn” (basically spinning on one foot while in a crouch on a 4-inch wide piece of wood) when she nearly fell over. Instead she rose to her feet, kept rotating, and went right into the next part of her routine as if it was planned all along.

Chiles’ steadiness gives Liukin another option as he tries to put together the rest of the four-woman team that will join Smith in Montreal. McCusker, only recently recovered from foot and wrist injuries, tried to keep the heat on Smith but stepped out of bounds following the last tumbling pass on her floor routine. McCusker finished first on bars — her legs practically magnetized together as she went from bar to bar — to win the event with ease.

Ashton Locklear, like Smith an alternate last summer, wound up second on bars with a watered down routine as he makes her way back from her own injury issues and should have time to install upgrades before Montreal.

Whoever heads to Canada in October will go with the usual expectations for what has become the sport’s most dominant program.

MORE: Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles has competed in the six previous U.S. National Championships, winning the last four, but in Anaheim this year, she’s watching from the sidelines. Biles won four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor) and one bronze (on beam) last summer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This week she revealed she has returned to the gym to prepare for a yet to be determined event, in her return to competition.

When asked how she’s been doing in the gym by NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce, Biles responded with her signature smile accompanied by an endearingly bashful eye roll, “the beginning is…OK.”

MORE: Danell Leyva on why he’s retiring

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