Closing Ceremony

Youth Olympics wrap with Closing Ceremony, Lionel Messi cameo (photos)

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Lionel Messi, floating mascots and the words “selfie” and “hashtag” in the IOC president’s speech highlighted the Nanjing Youth Olympic Closing Ceremony, extinguishing the Olympic flame after 11 days of competition in the Chinese city.

IOC president Thomas Bach, who called on the athletes to take selfies in the Opening Ceremony, had a slightly different request in his speech Thursday.

“So again, I ask everybody here in this stadium, get your smart phones out — but do not take a selfie tonight,” Bach said. “In the Olympic spirit greet and thank the person next to you and take their picture. Share this token of friendship with the world, and post it with the hashtag #Nanjing2014.”

U.S. women’s rugby player Richelle Stephens was chosen as flag bearer for the 92-athlete delegation. Rugby is returning to the Olympics in 2016 for the first time since 1924.

The U.S. won 22 medals, including 10 golds, at the Youth Olympics, bettering its totals from the first Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010. Only host China and Russia placed higher on the medal table in Nanjing.

The Olympic Flag was handed over to Buenos Aires, which will host the 2018 Youth Olympics. Organizers played a video during the Closing Ceremony that included Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi.

Lillehammer will host the next Youth Winter Olympics in 2016. The Norwegian site hosted the largely praised 1994 Winter Olympics.

NBCSN coverage of the Youth Olympics concludes Thursday with the Closing Ceremony (6:30-8 p.m. ET).

Youth Olympics broadcast schedule

U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics