Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary

Boston Marathon tribute, moment of silence held near finish line

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Survivors of last year’s Boston Marathon tragedy hailed courage, character and resilience in a solemn tribute Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of twin bombings that rocked the race.

“It’s difficult to believe it has only been one year,” said Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dancer who lost her lower left leg in the bombings. “It feels like only a few weeks, and we have a long road yet to walk.”

Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu died from injuries suffered during the explosions near the finish line on Boylston Street. More than 260 others were injured. This year’s race will go on Monday, the traditional Patriots’ Day event and the 118th edition of the world’s oldest annual marathon.

Haslet-Davis and three more survivors spoke Tuesday along with Vice President Joe Biden, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other officials in front of more than 2,000 invited guests, those affected by the bombings, at Hynes Convention Center near the site of last year’s tragedy.

The two-hour ceremony, which included music from the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and vocalists, was followed by a walk outside, into light rain, for a moment of silence and flag-raising at the finish line.

“We are Boston. We are America. We respond. We endure. We overcome. We own the finish line,” said Biden, the final speaker of the indoor ceremony.

Biden also spoke at last year’s memorial service for Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, whom authorities say was shot and killed by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev three days after the brothers carried out the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I’ve never, never, never witnessed a tribute like I heard today,” Biden said. “You have survived, and you have soared.”

Haslet-Davis drew smiles with optimism.

“No milestone is too small to celebrate,” she said, “even walking into a non-handicapped bathroom stall for the first time doing a happy dance. It’s the little things.”

Patrick Downes also lost his lower left leg in the attack. So did his newlywed wife. He spoke of the sense of community that has enveloped the survivors.

“We should have never met this way,” Downes said, “but we are so grateful for each other.”

David Yepez, then 15, suffered a torn ear drum, second-degree arm burns, and had a 3-inch piece of shrapnel embedded 6 inches into his leg. He was a spectator, at the site of the second of two bombings in 12 seconds, feet away from Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who was killed.

He praised the first responders and medical helpers, many of whom were at the tribute.

“Thank you for your love, compassion and generosity,” Yepez said. “You have touched our hearts in a way that, many times, our gratitude could only be expressed through our tears of joy.”

David’s father, Luis Yepez, also spoke.

“On that toughest mile, just when we think we’ve hit a wall, there will be someone there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall,” Luis said.

Outside, the Irish tenor Ronan Tynan performed “God Bless America” before the moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the time the first bomb exploded. The Old South Church bells tolled. An American flag was hoisted up and the national anthem was sung. Bagpipes were played below a crowd of umbrellas.

On Monday, the 118th Boston Marathon will include the second-largest field in race history. The group of some 36,000 runners — 9,000 more than 2013 — will accommodate about 5,000 who did not have the opportunity to cross the finish line last year. Only the Centennial Boston Marathon in 1996 drew more runners (38,708 entrants).

The first athletes will start at 8:50 a.m. ET. The elite women go off at 9:32, the elite men at 10 and the final wave at 11:25.

It’s estimated more than one million well-wishers may line the route from Hopkinton to Boston, double the usual amount, with 3,500 police officers, more than double last year’s number.

Officials stress a simple theme among the staggering statistics — to preserve the traditional feel and character of the Boston Marathon.

“I’ve never heard anything so beautiful as what all of you just said,” Biden said in his speech. “You are the proof that America can never, never, never be defeated.”

Boston sports teams share same #BostonStrong tweet

Pyeongchang Olympic organizers optimistic with 500 days to go

Security personnel stands by a logo of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games before an event to mark the start of the 500-day countdown in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. With 500 days until the Olympic cauldron is ignited in Pyeongchang, organizers of the 2018 Winter Games say 90 percent of construction on new venues is complete and the focus of preparations is on test events. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Marking the 500-day countdown to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, organizers said Tuesday that 90 percent of construction of new venues is complete and the focus is now on preparing for test events.

Pyeongchang’s organizing committee said construction is on schedule for a series of sports competitions scheduled from November to April that will serve as rehearsals for the Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, 2018.

The six new competition venues for the games are now 88 percent complete and a new high-speed rail line – designed to link the country’s main gateway of Incheon airport with Pyeongchang in less than two hours – will be completed next June and start operations in January 2018, organizers said.

The preparations are undergoing a transition from the “planning phase to operational readiness,” the organizing committee said in a statement.

“Asia has immeasurable potential to become the frontier of winter sports. Pyeongchang has been dedicated to promote winter sports and attract investments throughout Asia,” the committee said.

Noting that the 2018 Games will be the first of three consecutive Olympics in Asia, the committee said Pyeongchang will be an “opportunity to establish even closer links among the next host countries and build bridges through sports.”

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, while Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Games.

Pyeongchang organizers have overcome delays, local conflicts over venue constructions and difficulties attracting domestic sponsorships in past years. Optimism over preparations has increased after the successful hosting of the first round of test events at Alpine venues earlier this year.

Despite a slow start, organizers say more than 80 percent of the domestic sponsorship target of $850 million has been met and that they expect to reach 90 percent of the target by the end of the year.

A program of cultural events featuring pop singers and local sports stars was held in Seoul on Tuesday evening to mark the start of the countdown.

MORE: 500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 06:  Chloe Kim celebrates a first place finish in the ladies' FIS Snowboard World Cup at the 2016 U.S Snowboarding Park City Grand Prix on February 6, 2016 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Today marks 500 days until the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics.

Below are five U.S. athletes to get to know before February 9, 2018:

Ryan Bailey (Bobsled): Bailey, who finished fifth as a sprinter in the London Olympic 100m, is attempting to compete at the 2018 Olympics as a bobsledder. On Sept. 21, just weeks into his bobsled career, he won the men’s push athlete national title. The last male Summer Olympian to make a U.S. Olympic bobsled team was Willie Davenport in 1980.

MORE: Converted sprinter Ryan Bailey wins bobsled national title

Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson (Speed Skating): Bowe and Richardson have been trading world records in recent years. Last November, Bowe broke her own women’s 1000m world record, only to have Richardson lower it just three minutes later. A week later, Bowe broke the world record in the event once again.

MORE: Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Figure Skating): The future is uncertain for Davis and White, who became the first U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title in Sochi. They have not competed since the 2014 Olympics, but they have also not announced their retirement.

MORE: Where Meryl Davis, Charlie White stand on possible comeback

Chloe Kim (Snowboarding): Kim mathematically qualified for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in halfpipe, but at 13, she was not old enough to be eligible to compete in Sochi. A U.S. woman has won gold in the event at three of the past four Olympics, but Kaitlyn Farrington, who won halfpipe gold in Sochi, retired after being diagnosed with a spinal condition.

MORE: Kaitlyn Farrington retires from snowboarding

Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing): Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at the 2014 Games, when she was 18. Four years later, she is hoping to become the first Alpine skier — man or woman — to repeat as slalom gold medalist. She also could become the first U.S. women’s Alpine skier to win gold medals in multiple Olympics.