As is custom, the U.S. Olympic Committee is not announcing specific medal targets for the Sochi Olympics.
“I thought a lot about the medal count,” said Alan Ashley, U.S. chef de mission and USOC chief of sport performance. “The one thing I’ll tell you is I don’t have a specific number. … I think Team USA goes into this in a really good place and can do well like we did in Vancouver.”
The U.S. topped the overall standings at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics with 37 medals. That was the second time it led the Winter Games medal table after Lake Placid 1932.
It also marked the most medals ever won by a single nation at a Winter Olympics, an unsurprising statistic given more events are added to the Olympic program every four years.
The U.S. is expected to contend to win the most overall and gold medals with Germany, Norway, Canada and perhaps Russia. It will be boosted by the addition of new Olympic events snowboard slopestyle, ski slopestyle and ski halfpipe.
The USOC and national governing bodies have also worked together to match “needs with resources” since Vancouver, Ashley said. That’s why sports such as cross-country skiing and biathlon that aren’t traditionally American dominated could see medal breakthroughs in Sochi.
“We’ve been able to really customize and drill down where we can have the greatest impact,” Ashley said. “I’d like to try to get as many athletes opportunities as possible to become obviously Olympians, then become successful Olympians as well.”
U.S. Olympic Team roster with Twitter handles
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.
Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.
The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.
“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.
MORE: Usain Bolt says he received offers to play wide receiver in the NFL (video)
The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.
“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”
Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.
Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.
“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”
MORE: Berlin Marathon to live stream on NBC Sports app