Bryan Fletcher, cancer survivor, wins U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Trials

Leave a comment

Bryan Fletcher, diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, won the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Trials to lock up his second Winter Games berth on Saturday.

Fletcher, 31, overcame an 84-second deficit after the ski jump to reach the 10km cross-country ski finish line first in Park City, Utah.

Brothers Adam and Ben Loomis were second and third, followed by Fletcher’s younger brother, Taylor, according to reports from Park City.

As a boy, Bryan Fletcher underwent chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia for more than four years, surviving a stroke in the process, before going into remission at age 8.

He entered kindergarten with a bald head but made light of his condition by painting it green and wearing a matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfit.

Fletcher, who took up skiing during chemo, was a ski jumping forerunner at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

He just missed the 2010 Olympic team due to an ankle injury from falling down stairs. Taylor took the last spot instead.

Fletcher made his Olympic debut in Sochi, finishing 22nd and 26th in two individual events and sixth in the team event.

Ben Loomis, a 19-year-old and 2016 Youth Olympic silver medalist, led Saturday’s trials after the ski jump portion. Bryan and Taylor Fletcher were fifth and sixth going into the 10km.

This Olympic Nordic combined team will not have any of the men who won the U.S.’ four medals in the sport, all in 2010.

Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick, who competed in the last five Olympics, retired after Sochi.

Without them, U.S. skiers haven’t performed well enough internationally yet to earn an Olympic berth in the Nordic combined team event.

The U.S. currently has two spots available in the individual events in PyeongChang but can get up to five spots (and a team event berth) by the qualifying deadline in three weeks.

The team event has been in the Olympics since 1988, with the U.S. taking part each time.

The U.S. Olympic ski jumping trials are Sunday, airing on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app at 1 p.m. ET.

The male and female winners will clinch Olympic berths, with the rest of the team announced in January.

The favorites include Sochi Olympian Sarah Hendrickson and Nita Englund, plus Will Rhoads and Kevin Bickner, a pair leading a new generation of U.S. male jumpers.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon

Getty Images
4 Comments

Watch the world’s best distance runners chase world records at the London Marathon, live on NBCSN and commercial free on the NBC Sports Gold “Track and Field Pass” for subscribers on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon
NBCSN coverage — STREAM LINK
NBC Sports Gold commercial free — STREAM LINK

Sunday’s race start times (ET)
3:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
4:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
4:15 – Elite Women’s Race
5:00 – Elite Men’s Race, Mass Race

The men’s field features arguably the two greatest distance runners of all time — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympic marathon champ, ran the fastest marathon ever recorded — 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour attempt last May in non-record-eligible conditions.

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history under legal conditions, having run six seconds shy of Kenyan Dennis Kimetto‘s world record of 2:02:57 from 2014.

In the women’s race, Kenyan Mary Keitany, already the world-record holder in a women’s-only race, looks to take down Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers set in London 15 years ago. That time is 2:15:25.

Keitany is challenged by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the third-fastest female marathoner in history behind Keitany and Radcliffe.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

Getty Images
Leave a comment

French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government