Meb Keflezighi

Meb Keflezighi, Jenny Simpson win USATF Athlete of the Year awards

Leave a comment

Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and Diamond League 1500m winner Jenny Simpson were named USA Track and Field’s Athlete of the Year winners Monday.

Keflezighi, the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years, earned the Jesse Owens Award over the likes of Justin Gatlin, who went undefeated in the 100m and 200m this year, four years removed from a four-year doping suspenion.

“This recognition as the best athlete on the world’s best track and field team, especially at the age of 39, means a lot to me, and is a tribute to all who have supported me unconditionally throughout the years,” Keflezighi said in a press release.

Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, also won the USATF Half Marathon Championships and finished fourth in the New York City Marathon this year.

He could become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner ever in Rio.

Simpson, 28, won the final two Diamond League 1500m races this summer to secure the season-long title in the event. She won the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award over fellow Diamond League champions Allyson Felix and Dawn Harper-Nelson, among others.

“Twenty years ago, I was a normal kid running around PE class when my gym coach suggested I join the cross-country team,” Simpson said in a press release. “I never could have imagined where that suggestion would lead.”

Simpson broke her 1500m personal best twice this year and is one tenth shy of Mary Slaney‘s American record, the longest-standing American record in an Olympic men’s or women’s track event.

In Rio, Simpson could become the first American to win an Olympic track gold medal in an event longer than 400m in 44 years.

Peter Forsberg and the Olympics

Top curling video and social media moments

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For nearly three straight weeks, curling dominated the Olympic airwaves, and while the U.S., Sweden and Canada all came away with gold medals, there were still plenty of highlights away from the ice.

In the mixed doubles tournament, fans were introduced to Team USA’s #HamFam, Matt and Becca Hamilton, who became instant sensations. Matt was even confused for some other celebrities, as people tried to nail down exactly who he looked like.

And he got to “meet” his hero, Aaron Rodgers… of course only through Twitter (for now!)

 In the women’s tournament, fans were introduced to Japan’s “sunshine team,” who were all all smiles on the way to their bronze medal win.

Three Stars from men’s hockey at the Olympics

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBC Olympics staff selected three special performers from the enitre men’s tournament at the Olympics.

FIRST STAR
Eeli Tolvanen, Finland: The 18-year-old winger was the undisputed breakout star of the men’s tournament. Even though Finland was eliminated in the quarterfinals, Tolvanen’s tally of nine points still ranked second overall as he averaged nearly two points per game. He scored in his Olympic debut and also tallied two assists against eventual silver medalist Germany. He followed that up with two scores against Norway. Tolvanen paced his team past an energized South Korean team in the qualification playoffs, assisting in Finland’s opening three goals. After a sizzling Olympic performance, Tolvanen could be on his way to the NHL to help the Nashville Predators chase the Stanley Cup once again.

NBCOlympics.com: OAR defeat Germany to win hockey gold 

SECOND STAR
Nikita Gusev, Olympic Athletes from Russia: The Vegas Golden Knights prospect tallied four goals and eight assists in just six games throughout the 2018 Winter Games. He also struck twice when it mattered most, helping OAR force OT in the gold-medal game. Trailing 3-2 in the final frame and playing shorthanded, Gusev was able to sneak a backhanded shot into the back of the net to knot the score with less than a minute remaining. Then, in the extra session, it was Gusev who made a beautiful cross-ice pass to set up the golden goal by Kirill Kaprizov.

NBCOlymipcs.com: Canada claim bronze with 6-4 over Czech Republic

THIRD STAR
Ryan Donato, United States: The 21-year-old Boston Bruins prospect was bright spot for Team USA despite the disappointing finish. The sniper lifted his team to a crucial preliminary-round victory over Slovakia, grabbing both goals in a 2-1 victory. He came back to haunt Slovakia again with two more scores in the qualification playoffs, and though the United States’ tournament came to an end in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic, Donato notched one last goal in the 3-2 loss to finish with a team-leading five goals and six points. Donato, along with fellow collegiate athletes Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway, surprised many with their contributions on the ice. If management had known of their game-changing impact in advance, the American roster might have included more NCAA players.