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Olympic women’s bobsled champs ready for title defense in Sochi

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There have been three Olympic women’s bobsled competitions since its debut in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and there have been three different champions. If Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse have their way, they’ll be the first team to defend a title.

Humphries (driver) and Moyse (brakeman) led a 1-2 finish for Canada on home soil four years ago at Vancouver. Now, in Sochi, they’ve got the target on their back, a sort of pressure that can be every bit as daunting as performing well in front of your countrymen.

But Humphries feels that four years after her Olympic triumph, she’s come into her own as a pilot – and that could mean trouble for her competition, which includes Team USA counterpart and fellow gold medal contender Elana Meyers.

“It’s one thing to reach the top and get there,” Humphries said to reporters today in Russia. “And Heather and I had developed a kind of process in order to do that. But to stay there, we really had to come together stronger than ever. She’s grown individually, I’ve grown individually and its comfortable coming back together with the base that we have.”

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As for Moyse, who also doubles as a member of Canada’s national women’s rugby squad, she’s made her way back from hip surgery in late 2012 and subsequent rehabilitation. The process, according to her, made her realize that she gains motivation when facing adversity.

“…So knowing I had these goals to come back to rugby and [bobsled] in an Olympic season, they were huge,” she said. “It was really motivating for me and has just carried me through all the rehab.”

Now, both of them – physically and mentally stronger than ever – will be out to achieve an Olympic first.

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.”

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