Usain Bolt

Guide to the Commonwealth Games

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It is the world’s only event that brings together Usain Bolt and lawn bowlers.

The Commonwealth Games are the biggest summer multi-sport competition outside of the Olympics, held every four years. This summer’s edition is in Glasgow, Scotland. The Opening Ceremony is Wednesday and the Closing Ceremony on Aug. 3.

In between, more than 4,000 athletes are expected to compete across most — but not all — Summer Olympic sports and a few non-Olympic sports, such as lawn bowls (which may be the hottest ticket in Glasgow).

The event does not have much exposure in the U.S. — not even TV coverage — since the U.S. is not part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Instead, the notable countries competing in Glasgow are Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa and the nations that make up Great Britain at the Olympics, led by England.

The BBC has a more detailed day-by-day outlook, but here are sport-by-sport capsules highlighting athletes who might be familiar to the U.S. audience:

Track and Field (July 27-Aug. 2)

Usain Bolt is expected to race for the first time this year in the 4x100m relay, but not any individual races, after a foot injury forced him to pull out of earlier meets. Heats are Aug. 1, and the final is Aug. 2.

He could be joined on the relay by World Championships teammates Nickel Ashmeade and Kemar Bailey-Cole, but missing are the injured Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, who is just coming back from a doping suspension.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Olympic and World 100m champion, is, like Bolt, only expected to contest the 4x100m relay. She could be joined by two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown on the Jamaican quartet.

Individual event stars include Kenyan Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, the subject of a documentary being aired by the BBC on Tuesday night.

The eyes of Britain will be on Mo Farah, who is slated to attempt another 5000m-10,000m double after winning gold in both events at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships.

Then there’s the most dominant athlete in track and field — New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, who has won more than 50 straight shot put competitions.

Swimming (Thursday through Tuesday; heats 5:30 a.m. ET; finals 2 p.m. ET)

Americans get the chance to size up the top competition for the Pan Pacific Championships (Aug. 21-24, Gold Coast, Australia). Australia, South Africa and Canada are among the nations that compete in both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs.

The Aussies sent their biggest stars to Glasgow, led by World champions James Magnussen (100m freestyle), Christian Sprenger (100m breaststroke) and Cate Campbell (100m freestyle) and the decorated Alicia Coutts.

South Africa boasts its Olympic champions, Cameron van der Burgh (100m breast) and Chad le Clos (100m butterfly). Canada’s roster includes Olympic and World Championships 1500m silver medalist Ryan Cochrane.

Gymnastics (July 28-Aug. 1)

The world’s dominant gymnastics nations — China, Japan, the U.S., Russia, Romania — aren’t at the Commonwealth Games. So, the focus goes to British gymnasts, who are divided among England and Scotland.

England features four of the five men from Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic bronze medal-winning team — Louis SmithMax WhitlockKristian Thomas and Sam Oldham. The fifth man from the Olympics, Daniel Purvis, competes for Scotland along with 2009 World all-around silver medalist Daniel Keatings.

There is one Olympic team champion in Glasgow, Australian Naoya Tsukahara, 37 and the son of the great Mitsuo Tsukahara, who won gold with Japan at Athens 2004.

Diving (July 30-Aug. 2; finals 6:30 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET)

The world’s best divers just finished the biggest meet of the year, the World Cup in Shanghai, but a few reconvene at Commonwealths.

The star is undoubtedly Tom Daley, the 2012 Olympic platform bronze medalist from England. Daley took fourth at the World Cup in Shanghai.

Cycling

England’s Bradley Wiggins takes part in the Commonwealth Games after not being named to Team Sky’s squad for the Tour de France, which he won in 2012 (along with the Olympic time trial). Wiggins will ride on the track — not the road — in Glasgow, and he will only do one event, the team pursuit on Thursday.

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USOC supports athletes expressing themselves after anthem protests

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PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Olympic Committee supports American athletes expressing themselves at winter sports events leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics.

Some MLB, NFL and WNBA players kneeled and remained in locker rooms during the national anthem at games over the weekend.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was asked Monday if the USOC would support American athletes peacefully protesting during the national anthem this fall and winter at pre-Games competition.

“I think the athletes that you see protesting are protesting because they love their country, not because they don’t,” Blackmun said at a pre-Winter Games media summit. “We fully support the right of our athletes and everybody else to express themselves. The Olympic Games themselves, there is a prohibition on all forms of demonstrations, political or otherwise. And that applies no matter what side of the issue you’re taking, no matter where you’re from. … But we certainly recognize the importance of athletes being able to express themselves.”

Blackmun was correct to reference the Olympic Charter, which states that “no kind of demonstration … is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

Blackmun mentioned Tommie Smith and John Carlos‘ raised-fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, which got them kicked out of the Games by the IOC.

The USOC has honored Smith and Carlos. They visited the White House last year with the Rio Olympic team.

“That was a seminal moment not only for the Olympic Movement, but for the U.S. Olympic team,” Blackmun said of the 1968 podium gesture. “Our stance on this has been fairly clear. We certainly recognize the rights of the athletes to express themselves.”

Olympic hopefuls were peppered with questions about possible protests at the media summit.

“One of the proudest parts of being an American is the ability to have freedom of speech,” four-time Olympian Julia Mancuso said. “I really look up to athletes who take a stand for what they believe in. I really believe as athletes that compete for Team USA, when it comes to the Olympics, I like to think it’s a special event. Not like the NFL or pro sports teams that compete every weekend. For us, it’s every four years. I’m proud for athletes that stand up for what they believe in if they really want to have a message to get out. But I like to think of us all as patriotic.”

Elana Meyers Taylor, a two-time Olympic bobsled medalist, is the daughter of a U.S. Marine who served in Kuwait and spent summers in the 1980s playing at Atlanta Falcons training camps.

She said any decisions on demonstrations or whether she attends a post-Olympics Team USA White House visit come secondary to her pursuit of making the Olympic team this winter.

“I can’t afford to focus on what I would do in that situation or how I would react,” Meyers Taylor said, adding that anything would be a “game-time decision.” “Maybe the social climate changes a little bit [before the Olympics]. … There’s a lot to consider.”

Aja Evans, a 2014 Olympic bobsled bronze medalist, the sister of former NFL defensive tackle Fred Evans, did not say that she would follow the football players’ lead.

“I honor and commend anyone that does that,” Evans said. “My way of showing my stance is to continue to try to be a positive influence for my city, for my country. I’m representing Team USA the best way I can.”

NCAA hockey players Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway, both prospective Olympians with the NHL not participating, said they didn’t envision taking a knee during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I’ve always stood for the national anthem,” Greenway said. “I always will.”

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U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player from 2006 has shot at PyeongChang

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PARK CITY, Utah — Though no active NHL players will be in PyeongChang, veteran NHL forward and free agent Brian Gionta could very well play for his second U.S. Olympic team in February.

A USA Hockey official confirmed Monday that the 2006 Olympian Gionta “has a very decent opportunity” to be part of the 2018 Olympic team.

That came in response to a Buffalo radio report that Gionta said it’s looking good for him to play for Team USA.

Gionta, 38, played 15 NHL seasons through last year but is currently unsigned as the NHL preseason continues. The U.S. Olympic team of 25 players named around Jan. 1 is likely to include very few, if any, players with Gionta’s experience.

Gionta was seen at the Rochester (N.Y.) AHL club’s practice Monday (but not taking part), according to media in that area. Gionta could play for an AHL club and be eligible for PyeongChang. USA Hockey wants prospective Olympians to be active in the AHL, NCAA or a European league.

Gionta’s agent has not responded to a request for comment on his Olympic prospects on Monday. Earlier in the summer, Gionta’s agent said that the skater was considering the Olympics.

Gionta led the 2006 U.S. Olympic team with four goals. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals to Finland, their worst Olympic result over the last four Winter Games.

That came during Gionta’s most productive NHL season — 48 goals (sixth in the league) and 41 assists for the New Jersey Devils.

Another Olympian — Ryan Malone from 2010 — embarked on a comeback this preseason and could pursue the Olympics. He has been in camp with the Minnesota Wild. If he doesn’t make the Wild, Malone could play on an AHL contract and be eligible for the Olympics.

U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said this summer that he was interested in some players who “have a rich history in the NHL and with USA Hockey that we think could potentially really help this roster.” Johannson wouldn’t name names then.

Johansson said a “long list” of potential players for the final 25-man roster must be submitted in September.

A U.S. team of primarily European-based players will take part in a tournament in November in Germany. That roster is expected to be named in October.

The U.S. staff will also look at NCAA and AHL players ahead of naming the PyeongChang team.

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