Janet Evans

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It’s official: U.S. sending 555 athletes to Rio Olympics

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With a ceremony on Venice Beach, just outside Los Angeles, which is bidding for the 2024 Olympics Games, the 2016 U.S. Olympic team was officially confirmed Saturday for the Rio Games.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans, who is on the LA 2024 Olympic bid committee, hosted the event and was joined on stage by women’s basketball player Tamika Catchings, who will make her fourth Olympic appearance, as well as water polo player Tony Azevedo and beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, both of whom are set for their fifth Olympics.

Evans confirmed a roster 555 U.S. athletes, which will be the largest athlete delegation of any nation, the first time since 2004 that the U.S. held that distinction at a Summer Olympics.

Among the interesting numbers released by Team USA:

– The most women (292) to ever compete for one nation in Olympic history; 263 U.S. men will compete.

– Americans will participate in 244 of the 306 medal events in Rio.

– The U.S. will be represented in 27 sports (40 disciplines).

– 191 returning Olympians.

– Three six-time Olympians – equestrian Phillip Dutton, and shooters Emil Milev and Kim Rhode – giving the U.S. 11 athletes in history, summer or winter, to make six Games.

– Seven five-time Olympians – Tony Azevedo (water polo), Glenn Eller (shooting), Bernard Lagat (track and field), Steven Lopez (taekwondo), Michael Phelps (swimming), Kerri Walsh Jennings (beach volleyball) and Venus Williams (tennis). Only 35 U.S. athletes in addition to these have appeared in at least five Olympics.

– 19 four-time Olympians, 50 three-time Olympians, 112 two-time Olympians and 363 Olympic rookies.

– 108 returning Olympic medalists, 68 returning Olympic gold medalists, and 45 Olympians owning multiple medals.

– 53 U.S. athletes will attempt to defend titles from London; 19 in individual events.

– 54 of the athletes are parents.

– 17 athletes have military ties.

– 46 states are represented.

MORE: U.S. Olympic team of 550-plus athletes most of any nation in Rio

Janet Evans on what she admires most about Katie Ledecky (video)

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For more than 15 years, Janet Evans simultaneously held the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle world records.

Now, those records have belonged to Katie Ledecky for nearly two years. She has a long way to go to match Evans’ longevity, but Ledecky’s talent is simply overwhelming in Evans’ opinion.

“She swims an 800 freestyle like it’s a 200 freestyle,” Evans told Michele Tafoya on NBC Sports’ coverage of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. “What I appreciate the most is that she literally takes a race out like it’s a 100-meter freestyle or a 200-meter freestyle, and then she keeps that pace going for 800 meters or, even though it’s not in the Olympics, the 1500 meters.”

Ledecky, 19, swept the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in Omaha this week. The 1500m free is not on the Olympic program for women (it is for the men, but the men don’t have the 800m free).

Ledecky has entered 15 finals at major international meets and won all of them. She will likely be in at least four more in Rio, including the 4x200m free relay.

Evans, 44, has joked that she’s old enough to be Ledecky’s mother. But they actually swam in the same meet in 2012, when Evans entered the U.S. Olympic Trials for the first time since 1996.

Evans saw the competitive drive in Ledecky’s eyes four years ago, when Ledecky made the team in the 800m free but missed in the 400m free, finishing third.

“I remember seeing how disappointed she was when she didn’t make the team [in the 400],” Evans said in 2014. “I remember thinking, oh, yeah, she wants this. She’s pretty hungry. Then I remember watching her 800, where she just took it out and took no prisoners.”

MORE: The code to Katie Ledecky’s goals in Rio

Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, Edwin Moses to appear on Wheaties boxes

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U.S. Olympic champions Greg LouganisJanet Evans and Edwin Moses will appear on Wheaties boxes for the first time next month.

Louganis is most noteworthy, for there was a petition to put the four-time Olympic diving champion on the iconic cereal box following his 2015 documentary, “Back on Board.”

In the film, Louganis said that he wasn’t as celebrated as other 1980s Olympic champions.

“Never got a Wheaties box,” Louganis said in the film. “Their response was that I didn’t fit their wholesome demographics or whatever. Basically, being gay, or being rumored that I was gay.”

Louganis, who swept the platform and springboard titles in 1984 and 1988, retired after the Seoul Olympics and came out publicly as gay and HIV positive in the mid-1990s.

Evans also earned four gold medals while swimming in three Olympics in 1988, 1992 and 1996.

Moses, winner of 122 straight 400m hurdles races from 1977 to 1987, won the 1976 and 1984 Olympic titles and was an Olympic teammate of Louganis and Evans in 1988.

Below are images of the boxes to come out in May along with comments from each athlete, via General Mills:

VIDEO: Janet Evans relives 1996 Olympic torch handoff to Ali

Greg Louganis

Louganis: “It’s so iconic, everybody looks at the Wheaties box and it’s such an honor. I can’t wait to see Janet’s and Edwin’s boxes too. I’m excited for them as much as myself. What great company to be in. Edwin’s always been a hero to me. It’s such an honor to be in this group.”

Janet Evans

Evans: “I think getting the honor now actually means more. I think when you’re competing and you’re young, you kind of just take it for granted that of course if you win a gold medal you might have the incredible honor of being on a Wheaties box. To even be listed with the incredible athletes that have been on the Wheaties box, and to be a part of this great legacy … for me to be on a Wheaties box with these incredible legends that have already graced the front of your boxes. It’s truly an honor and I honestly can’t think of anything that makes me more excited. I’m really honored.”

Edwin Moses

Moses: “I was very impressed, because I know it’s a very prestigious honor to be on the box of Wheaties. Several icons in track and field, and people that I know, have been on the box – starting with Bruce Jenner in 1976 – so it’s quite an honor to be included among that subset of athletes.”