IIHF prez: End of Olympic women’s hockey “will never happen”

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Tomorrow will see the Olympic women’s hockey gold medal settled between Canada and the United States for the fourth time in five tournaments. And the gap between those two squads and the rest of the world is a noticeable one.

In recent years, there’s been talk of the sport needing to improve the depth of competition if it is to continue on into the future as part of the Olympics.

But if the leader of the International Ice Hockey Federation has anything to do with it, we won’t need to worry about a potential drop for women’s hockey from the Olympic program.

“I can guarantee that will never happen,” IIHF president Rene Fasel has said according to the Associated Press.

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Additionally, the IOC has said that it’s been pleased with the women’s hockey action so far in Sochi.

Nonetheless, the sport could definitely use other powerhouses outside of North America.

Following the Americans’ 6-1 semifinal win over Sweden, U.S. star Julie Chu talked of her hope to eventually see an Olympic women’s hockey field where everyone stands a puncher’s chance.

Suffering a few more upsets beats the alternative from Chu’s perspective.

“The reality is if women’s hockey ever got pulled out of the Olympics, the trickle effect is going to be huge,” she said to Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post on Monday.

“Not just on the Olympic level, not just on the international level, but we’re going to feel it at our NCAA level in the States, and we’re going to feel it in the growth of our girls.”

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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