Walter Walsh

World’s oldest-ever Olympian passes away

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Walter Walsh, the world’s oldest-ever Olympian, passed away Tuesday, six days shy of his 107th birthday.

Walsh finished 12th in the 50m free pistol event at the 1948 London Olympics at age 41. He died of natural causes with his family by his side at his home in Northern Virginia, USA Shooting said.

Walsh eclipsed another American, Rudy Schrader, as the oldest Olymipan ever on Jan. 18, 2013. Schrader was a gymnast at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.

The oldest living Olympian is now Swiss Hans Erni, who participated in art competitions at the 1948 Olympics. The oldest living Olympian in a current Olympic sport is believed by Olympic historians to be 1936 Chinese discus thrower Guo Jie, who is 102.

USA Shooting has a detailed biography of Walsh here. Some of the highlights:

Walsh grew up in New Jersey, learning to shoot with a BB gun, hitting clothespins off his aunt’s clothesline. He later shot a smoothbore .22 caliber rifle at rats in the city dump, where the Meadowlands would later be built.

Walsh joined the Civilian Military Training Corps and the New Jersey National Guard, winning marksmanship awards, graduated from Rutgers law school and, in 1934, joined the FBI.

He discovered the body of Chicago gangster Baby Face Nelson as a rookie FBI agent, and then helped apprehend Arthur “Doc” Barker and shot and killed gangster Rusty Gibson on the same day.

In 1937, he took a shot to the chest and the right hand while posing as a salesman in Bangor, Maine, helping bring down the Brady Gang, shooting a gang member and the gang leader after he was shot.

In 1938, he took a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He went on active duty by 1942 and was later drawn into the front lines of World War II.

He returned to the FBI, competed at the 1948 Olympics and then served another 20-plus years in the Marine Corps as a shooting instructor before retiring.

He served as a team leader for USA Shooting at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where American shooters won four medals.

Walsh was inducted into the USA Shooting Hall of Fame in 2013.

First U.S. female Olympic champion to reach 100 years old

Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins back-to-back slalom races at Aspen World Cup

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“I think there’s something special about Aspen,” Mikaela Shiffrin told NBC after winning two slalom races in as many days.

After Saturday’s history-making win, when Shiffrin won her first World Cup race in the U.S. and was the first American woman to win a slalom race at the Aspen World Cup stop, the twenty-year-old won again by a large margin. After winning by 3:07 seconds on Saturday, Shiffrin told reporters, “I don’t think [my competitors] are going to let me get away with three seconds ever again.”

But on Sunday her lead over the second place finisher, Frida Hansdotter of Sweden, wasn’t much shorter: 2:65 seconds. And this was with an early mistake that left her off balance for a moment in her final run.

In third place was Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic.

Watch Shiffrin’s final run:

This weekend also saw a podium finish for American Travis Ganong. Racing the downhill event at Lake Louise yesterday, Ganong finished third behind Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who is recovering from an Achilles injury that prevented him from competing the majority of the last season, and Peter Fill of Norway. Ganong cAksel Lund Svindal of Norwayouldn’t quite repeat his success in the Super G event on Sunday, finishing fourth.

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