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Hope Solo, not retiring, apologized to Sweden captain after ‘cowards’ comment

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Hope Solo, who is not retiring, said a Sweden co-captain told her she didn’t need to apologize for her comments calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S.’ quarterfinal loss at the Rio Olympics.

Solo, a 35-year-old suspended until February by U.S. Soccer, said she spoke to Swedish co-captain Lotta Schelin shortly after the Aug. 12 match that ended in penalty kicks. Solo and Schelin were once club teammates for a Swedish league team in 2004.

“I said to her, ‘You know, Lotta, I said something. I used the word “cowards” when talking about you guys, and I didn’t mean that. I’m so sorry,'” Solo said in a Swedish interview published Friday. “And she was like, ‘Oh, I know you, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.’ And she’s like, ‘Look, the American team has been in the last five championship games in the Olympics. Five championships.’ And she’s like, ‘We never have.’ She’s like, ‘So, for us to beat a better-skilled team like Brazil and like America, we had to drop back defensively.’ And she knew it, but for the most part, we just hugged and we laughed and she accepted my apology. She didn’t even think I needed to apologize.”

Solo said she wasn’t enraged, emotional or angry when she made the “cowards” comments to journalists after the match.

“I’m not a loose cannon, like I think the media projects,” Solo said. “I didn’t mean to come across that the players were cowards or the coach was a coward. I meant the style of play, it wasn’t very Olympic-spirited.

“I think Lotta Schelin, No. 8, the captain for Sweden of course, is one of the best players in the world — one of the best attacking players in the world. So it was really difficult to watch her drop back defensively, and I saw her, most of the time, in the 18-yard box in her defense.

“And I wanted her to attack me, I wanted to play against Lotta. I wanted to try to stop her shots. I love the competitive nature between America and Sweden. It was a little disappointing to see them drop back to the 50-yard line to play defense.”

Solo added that she has not spoken with Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, the former U.S. women’s national team coach, since the match.

“She coaches the other team, so it’s kind of hard to speak to Pia, or have a relationship with Pia anymore,” Solo said.

Solo said her immediate future is up in the air, joking that she’s “jobless.” Her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, is retired after playing his last football game in 2010 at age 30.

“Retirement suits you,” Stevens recently told Solo. But Solo isn’t accepting that.

“I’ve had a lot of offers to play overseas, so maybe Sweden will welcome me back,” Solo joked.

VIDEO: Solo’s immediate reaction to six-month suspension

Joseph Schooling eyes Michael Phelps’ world record at world champs

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Shortly after Joseph Schooling upset Michael Phelps in the Rio Olympic 100m butterfly, the Singapore swimmer made his next goal quite clear.

Take Phelps’ 100m butterfly world record.

Schooling repeated that claim after returning to the University of Texas for his junior season in November and again following March’s NCAA Championships, where he was beaten by Caeleb Dressel in the 100-yard butterfly.

The goal is apparently an imminent one.

Schooling said he believes he can break Phelps’ record at the world championships in Budapest in July, according to Channel News Asia. It would require lowering his personal best by more than a half-second.

“I’m looking forward to that race, and deep down I think if I do what I know I can do, if I execute everything well perfectly, I’d have a really good shot,” Schooling said Thursday, according to the report.

Schooling, 21, hasn’t raced a 100m butterfly since the Olympics, where he clocked 50.39 seconds. That broke Phelps’ Olympic record of 50.58 set at the 2008 Olympics. It’s the fifth-fastest time ever.

All of the top four times, including Phelps’ world record of 49.82, were set in 2009 at the peak of the high-tech swimsuit era.

“My dad told me 50.39 is a world record in a textile suit, but I want the world record on paper,” Schooling reportedly said less than a week after his Olympic title in August. “My next goal is breaking 49.8.”

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MORE: Phelps joins gold medalists in swim race, but no comeback

Aly Raisman calls out airport worker for ‘muscles’ comment

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Three-time Olympic champion Aly Raisman called out a male airport security worker who she says questioned whether she had enough muscles to be a gymnast.

Raisman posted on Twitter on Wednesday that after a female Transportation Security Administration worker said she recognized Raisman by her biceps, a male employee said, “I don’t see any muscles.” Raisman called the encounter “rude & uncomfortable.”

Raisman, who turned 23 Thursday, says she works “very hard to be healthy & fit.” She says that if a man can’t compliment a girl’s muscles, he’s sexist.

Raisman didn’t say where or when the airport exchange took place.

Raisman previously authored a powerful social media post about body image, shouting out “to all the boys from 5th-9th grade who made fun of me for being ‘too strong’” in November.

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MORE: U.S. gymnasts give emotional testimony about sexual abuse