2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Sochi Opening Ceremony: Rodnina, Tretyak light Olympic cauldron together

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Two of Russia’s finest Olympians got the honor of lighting the cauldron in the climax of the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

After tennis superstar and NBC Olympics correspondent Maria Sharapova brought the Olympic flame into Fisht Olympic Stadium, the torch was then passed between pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, wrestler Aleksandr Karelin, and gymnast Alina Kabaeva before finally coming to three-time Olympic gold medalists Irina Rodnina (pairs figure skating) and Vladislav Tretyak (hockey).


Rodnina and Tretyak then jogged outside the stadium to the cauldron’s structure. Upon arriving, they lit a smaller cauldron and the flame shot up the structure before igniting the main cauldron at the top.

Check out NBCOlympics.com to see how the athletes saw tonight’s event in Sochi.

source: AP
NBC Olympics correspondent Maria Sharapova was the first of the torchbearers inside Fisht Olympic Stadium. Photo: AP
Alina Kabaeva (left) takes the torch from Aleksandr Karelin (center) as Sharapova and Yelena Isabayeva (far right) stand by. Photo: AP
source: AP
Vladislav Tretyak (with torch) and Irina Rodnina, the final torch bearers, take the Olympic flame toward the main cauldron. Photo: AP
source: AP
Tretyak and Rodnina light the mini-cauldron. Photo: AP
source: AP
The Olympic flame shoots upward toward the main cauldron. Photo: AP
source: Getty Images
Fireworks go off outside the stadium following the flame’s ascension to the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Getty Images
source: AP
Let The Games Begin…Officially. Photo: AP

Ashton Eaton named male IAAF Athlete of the Year

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American decathlete Ashton Eaton was named the 2015 male Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body for track and field. Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, the reigning world champion in the 1500m, was named the female IAAF Athlete of the Year.

Eaton is the first decathlete and just the eighth American man to win the title. Tyson Gay in 2007 was the last American man to be named.

The honor came due to Eaton’s world-record-setting performance at the world championships held in Beijing this past August. There he beat the previous record, his own from the 2012 Olympic Trials, by nine points. He also set a world record for running the fastest 400m portion of the decathlon in 45.00 seconds.

In the IAAF press release, Eaton said, “Athletes spend the most vigorous years of human life, arguably called the ‘best years’, working to hone their abilities. So, when an athlete competes, what people are witnessing is the manifestation of what a human being is capable of when they choose to direct all of their time and effort towards something.

“I’m grateful and thankful to the IAAF for excellent competitions, the canvases that allow us to display our work.”

He also acknowledged sprinter Usain Bolt and triple jumper Christian Taylor, who were also up for the title: “While I’m honored that I am considered the ‘artist’ of the year, I did not beat Usain and Christian; my work simply differed in design. They are some of the most talented and beautiful performers of all time. I’m flattered to be among them.”

Dibaba has been unbeaten in the 1500m over five races in 2015. Along with winning gold and setting a world record in the 1500 at the Beijing World Championships, Diababa won a bronze medal in the 5000m event.

She gratefully accepted the award, saying, “After being a finalist and narrowly missing out on this award one year ago, I am very proud to be recognized by the fans and experts of our sport.

“I had a great season and truly enjoyed competing around the world, from Monaco where I managed to establish a world record, to Beijing where I finally captured my first world outdoor title.”

Dibaba was recently featured in a family-themed promotional video for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

MORE: Seb Coe splits from Nike as IAAF president


Olympians celebrate Thanksgiving

Meryl Davis
Team USA/ Twitter
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Nov. 26 – or Thanksgiving to the rest of us – is oftentimes a typical training day for many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls. Here’s a look at how some of them spent the day training, competing, celebrating, and being thankful.

Workout football and food😁👍!!! Happy thanksgiving everyone!!!

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

Happy Thanksgiving from our cold cuts Turkey to yours! #family #happyhappyheart

A photo posted by @cammileadams on

Happy Thanksgiving from the SwimMAC Parade crew!

A photo posted by Tyler Clary (@tylerclary) on


MORE: NBC’s Thanksgiving Rio promo