Lolo Jones

Lolo Jones boosted by relay teammates in return to track

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Lolo Jones got off to a slow start in her first track event since competing in bobsled at the Sochi Olympics in February, but her shuttle hurdles relay team still won at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday night.

Jones, who said she has lost more than 20 pounds since Sochi, ran the second leg of a 4x100m shuttle hurdles relay on the USA Red team with 2013 world champion Brianna RollinsQueen Harrison and Vashti Thomas.

Rollins handed a lead to Jones, who lost it with a stuttering hop over her first hurdle, taking nine steps instead of the customary seven. Harrison and Thomas got it back to win in 50.93 seconds, beating a Jamaican team that ran 52.01.

“I made probably the biggest hurdle mistake you can make … for a 100m hurdle race, you’re pretty much sitting in a coffin like ‘the race is over,'” Jones said, according to The Associated Press. “So at that moment I crossed the line I was like, ‘All right, Queen! Let’s go team,’ because if it was individual, Lolo would be in last place.”

Nia Ali, the 2014 world indoor 60m hurdles champion, suffered an injury in warm-ups, which kept a USA White team from competing. It was set to include 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Kellie Wells.

In other events, 2013 world champion LaShawn Merritt edged rival and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James in the 400m, 44.44 to 44.60. 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner was last in 46.90.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica won the 110m hurdles in a world-leading 13.14 seconds, beating a field that included Americans David Oliver and Ryan Wilson, who went one-two at the 2013 World Championships.

“I am surprised with that time,” said Parchment, who ran .12 faster than Oliver’s previous world lead for 2014, to Lewis Johnson for Universal Sports. “I didn’t expect to run that fast so quickly [early in the season].”

2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley won the 400m hurdles in 48.57, ahead of Olympic bronze medalist Javier Culson (48.68). Olymipc champion Felix Sanchez was sixth in 49.84.

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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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