AP

Sarajevo Olympic bobsled, luge track restored, in use again after Bosnian war

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MOUNT TREBEVIC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Sports enthusiasts and former athletes in Bosnia have taken it upon themselves to reclaim some of the glory Sarajevo savored as host of the 1984 Olympics – and in the process rekindled the flame of international cooperation.

Since the country lacks the resources to rebuild the Olympic facilities that were destroyed in the deadly war that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, volunteers bought tools, rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

At first, they planned to restore the bobsled and luge track on Mount Trebevic just so it could be used by the Bosnian national team for summer training. But the previously abandoned facility became a draw for athletes from throughout Europe.

“We bought some tools with our own money and started cleaning the track from vegetation, debris and mud,” Senad Omanovic, the head of Bosnia’s Bobsleigh Federation, recalled. “We had trees growing out of the track.”

The 1992-95 Bosnian war was the most brutal conflict on European soil since World War II. It took over 100,000 lives and turned more than half the population into refugees.

It also trashed the decade-old Olympic facilities on the mountains around Sarajevo, venues residents once proudly looked up to from downtown as symbols of one of the city’s most glorious moments. During the war, Sarajevans hid from the artillery and snipers Bosnian Serbs had placed on the Dinaric Alps.

War turned the bobsled and luge track on Mount Trebevic, overlooking Sarajevo, into a concrete skeleton that eventually became covered with graffiti and trash. Little remains of the ski-jump facilities on Mount Igman, another site of fierce fighting. The men’s downhill courses on Bjelasnica were resurrected as the city’s main ski resort, but only after the land mines around them were cleared.

It took Omanovic and his teammates years to clean the bob- and luge track where in 1984 teams from the German Democratic Republic took the gold and silver medals. They could only approach the Trebevic track after mine-removal experts cleared its entire length.

As word spread through Eastern Europe that the Olympic track had been fixed up, teams in other countries approached Omanovic to ask about practicing there. The first was from Slovakia.

Omanovic recalled frankly telling the Slovaks the facility lacked locker rooms, timing sensors and even toilets. They insisted the Sarajevo track, despite its rough history and condition, was among the best of the nine tracks available around the world for summer training.

Tackling the course on wheeled equipment, racers can achieve speeds of 130 kilometers (81 miles) per hour. After Slovakia, teams from Poland, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia followed.

“So this became a regional training center,” said Omanovic, who now hopes the track will one day achieve its “old glory.”

Jacob Simonek, a member of the Slovakian team that has practiced in Sarajevo six times now, said the track was “a bit bumpy but good” despite its age and battle scars.

On the other end of town, the ski-jump facilities on Mount Igman still stand as sad relics of war.

Selver Merdanovic, a former ski jumper for Bosnia, has started working to revive the two small jumps so the 15 children from his club team can practice there. Rebuilding the high jumps, an expensive endeavor, remains a distance dream.

“I’m trying to return this sport to Bosnia,” Merdanovic said. “I wish this to be my legacy.”

MORE: Johnny Quinn leaves door open for bobsled return

Olympic Channel Broadcast Schedule: July 24 – 30

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The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA brings you access to your favorite Olympic sports and athletes year-round, 24/7.

Check the Channel Finder to see how you can watch the Olympic Channel in your area.

It is also available to stream live on OlympicChannel.com, the Olympic Channel app, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Select replays and highlights will be available on those platforms and TeamUSA.org.

See below for the latest Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA broadcast schedule, from July 24-30:

Day Program Time (ET)
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 1 – Semifinals & Finals 12:00 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Crossover Match #1 02:00 AM
Monday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Fabian Gomez, Mohamed Lahna and Alex & Maia Shibutani 03:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Heats 03:30 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Heats 06:00 AM
Monday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Lithuania (preliminary round) 06:30 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #1 08:30 AM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #2 10:00 AM
Monday World Games Day 3 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Monday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 3 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Monday World Para Track & Field Championships Day 10 from London, England 01:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #3 02:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #4 04:00 PM
Monday Flame Catchers: London 2012 05:30 PM
Monday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 06:00 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #1 06:30 PM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Monday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 4 from Leipzig, Germany 09:30 PM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 10:30 PM
Monday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Quarterfinal #2 12:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 2 – Semifinals & Finals 01:30 AM
Monday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Monday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Heats 03:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Heats 06:00 AM
Tuesday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Australia (quarterfinal) 06:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #1 08:30 AM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #2 10:00 AM
Tuesday World Games Day 4 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Tuesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 4 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Tuesday Return to Rio Women’s Water Polo: USA vs. Italy (final) 01:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #3 02:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #4 04:00 PM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 05:30 PM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 06:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #1 06:30 PM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Tuesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 5 from Leipzig, Germany 10:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 3 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Tuesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Quarterfinal #2 01:00 AM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 02:30 AM
Tuesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 03:00 AM
Tuesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Heats 03:30 AM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Heats 06:00 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Argentina (semifinal) 06:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Distance Events 08:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Women’s Sprint Events 09:30 AM
Wednesday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:30 AM
Wednesday World Games Day 5 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Wednesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 5 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Wednesday Return to London: Women’s Water Polo – USA vs. Spain (final) 01:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #1 02:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #2 04:00 PM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 05:30 PM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 06:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #1 06:30 PM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Wednesday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 6 from Leipzig, Germany 10:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 4 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Wednesday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Semifinal #2 01:00 AM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 02:30 AM
Wednesday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 03:00 AM
Wednesday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Heats 03:30 AM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Heats 06:00 AM
Thursday Return to London: Men’s Basketball – USA vs. Spain (final) 06:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Distance Events 08:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Women’s Sprint Events 09:30 AM
Thursday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:30 AM
Thursday World Games Day 6 from Wroclaw, Poland 11:30 AM
Thursday FIE World Fencing Championships Day 6 from Leipzig, Germany 12:30 PM
Thursday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Jaime Espinal, Miles Chamley-Watson and Devin Logan 01:30 PM
Thursday Gold Medal Entourage: Olympians Kayla Harrison, Marti Malloy, Toni-Ann Williams and Mark McMorris 02:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 02:30 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #2 04:00 PM
Thursday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 05:30 PM
Thursday Flame Catchers: London 2012 06:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 06:30 PM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Thursday Return to London: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 5 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Thursday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Semifinal #1 01:00 AM
Thursday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 02:30 AM
Thursday Flame Catchers: London 2012 03:00 AM
Thursday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Heats 03:30 AM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Heats 06:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 06:30 AM
Friday Return to London: Women’s Water Polo – USA vs. Spain (final) 07:00 AM
Friday World Games Day 7 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Bronze Medal Match 09:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 10:30 AM
Friday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Pool Play 11:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 02:00 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 02:30 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Bronze Medal Match 04:00 PM
Friday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Decathlon, Heptathlon, Field Events 05:30 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 06:30 PM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Semifinals & Finals 08:00 PM
Friday Return to Rio: Track & Field – Men’s Sprint Events 10:00 PM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 6 – Semifinals & Finals 11:00 PM
Friday FINA World Water Polo Championships Women’s Gold Medal Match 01:00 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: London 2012 02:30 AM
Friday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Friday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Heats 03:30 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Heats 06:00 AM
Saturday Return to London: Women’s Beach Volleyball – USA vs. USA (final) 06:30 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 07:30 AM
Saturday World Games Day 8 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Bronze Medal Match 09:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Atlanta 1996 10:30 AM
Saturday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships – Pool Play 11:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: London 2012 02:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Gold Medal Match 02:30 PM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 04:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Diving Championships Women’s 20m High Dive Final 05:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Water Polo Championships Men’s Gold Medal Match 06:30 PM
Saturday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 08:00 PM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 10:00 PM
Saturday UCI BMX World Championships From Rock Hill, South Carolina 11:00 PM
Saturday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 12:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 7 – Semifinals & Finals 02:00 AM
Saturday Flame Catchers: Athens 2004 03:00 AM
Saturday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Heats 03:30 AM
Sunday Against All Odds: Fiji’s Gold Medalist Jerry Tuwai 06:00 AM
Sunday Against All Odds: Petra Majdic and the Miracle of Vancouver 06:30 AM
Sunday Return to Rio: Track Cycling & BMX 07:00 AM
Sunday World Games Day 9 from Wroclaw, Poland 08:00 AM
Sunday Flame Catchers: Sydney 2000 09:00 AM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Women’s 20m High Dive Final 09:30 AM
Sunday FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Pool Play 11:00 AM
Sunday US Classic Gymnastics From Chicago, Illinois 02:00 PM
Sunday ITU World Triathlon Series Women’s Sprint – Edmonton, Canada 04:00 PM
Sunday ITU World Triathlon Series Men’s Sprint – Edmonton, Canada 05:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Semifinals & Finals 06:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Men’s 27m High Dive Final 08:00 PM
Sunday FINA World Swimming Championships Day 8 – Semifinals & Finals 09:30 PM
Sunday FINA World Diving Championships Men’s 27m High Dive Final 11:30 PM

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Michael Phelps loses Shark Week ‘race’ to great white (video)

Michael Phelps, Shark
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Michael Phelps was beaten by a great white shark in a Shark Week “race.”

Great White: 36.1 seconds
Michael Phelps: 38.13 seconds

Full video is here.

“I don’t like taking silver medals, but I’ll take one to a great white,” said Phelps, who complained about swimming in 50-degree water in a thin wetsuit but still called it “a dream come true.” “We don’t swim in this, so it basically just shocks our entire body. It’s almost like [the shark is] a bullet.”

The 23-time Olympic champion was not in the race water at the same time as a shark on “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White,” which aired on Discovery Channel on Sunday night.

Instead, experts determined the speeds and movements of sharks for hypothetical races. Then, Phelps dove into open water off South Africa alone with a monofin and swam to a buoy earlier this year.

VIDEO: Usain Bolt races Cheetah

Experts determined a great white could cover 100 meters in 36.1 seconds, which is much faster than Brazilian Cesar Cielo‘s 100m freestyle world record of 46.91.

They said a great white could reach up to 26 miles per hour at its fastest, meaning it could close the final 10 meters of a race in one second.

Early in the show in the Bahamas, Phelps outswam a hypothetical reef shark but was beaten by a hammerhead’s late surge in a 50-meter race.

Michael Phelps, Shark

The show used Phelps’ world record 100m butterfly swim from the 2009 World Championships for reference, saying he reached about 5.5 miles per hour at the end of the race.

A shark was super-imposed into a lane in that worlds race and easily outdistanced Phelps in the last 25 meters.

Phelps will star on the final night of Shark Week in “Shark School with Michael Phelps” next Sunday at 8 ET.

“Michael Phelps joins Doc Gruber and Tristan Guttridge of the Bimini Shark Lab to get a crash course on everything ‘shark,'” according to Discovery Channel. “They’ll dispel the myths and common misconceptions, teach him how to safely dive with sharks – including how to stay calm when a hammerhead swims two feet above his face – and will get Michael Phelps up close and personal with the incredible power of a great white.”

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MORE: Phelps says he doesn’t have itch to return to unretire

Michael Phelps, Shark
Discovery Channel Screenshot