olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18:  Ashton Eaton of the United States competes in the Men's Decathlon Javelin Throw on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Ashton Eaton seeks exit strategy with one decathlon box left to check

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A defining moment of Ashton Eaton‘s career came at a competition where he could not take part. On May 30, 2015, Eaton withdrew before the start of a decathlon in Götzis, Austria, citing a back injury.

Götzis is the multi events’ Augusta National or Wimbledon. The decathlon world record was broken there three times since 1980, including the first 9,000-point score by Czech Roman Sebrle in 2001.

Eaton had never competed in Götzis, previously also withdrawing due to injury, and missing another chance at the annual meet clearly bothered him last year.

Yet Eaton still showed up. After all, his wife, Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, would compete in the heptathlon at the meet. But on that first day of competition, Eaton grabbed a microphone and addressed the stadium in a way that spoke to his character.

“This competition is not about me,” Eaton said to the crowd, a good number of them having shown up hoping to see Eaton challenge his world record in his first decathlon in 19 months. “Don’t make this Ashton Eaton isn’t competing thing part of this competition because that would be criminal. You would be stealing a great experience from all of the athletes.”

Today, the decathlon is far from the front of Eaton’s mind. He is coming off his second straight Olympic title and set to travel to British Columbia, Peru and Kenya with his wife the next several weeks.

Eaton has said he will retire from track and field before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He may not even compete past next season.

There is little left for Eaton to accomplish in the decathlon. He has two Olympic titles, two world titles and two world records. But there is one box left to check.

“I know I would want to do Götzis,” Eaton said in a phone interview while promoting sponsor QALO recently.

It’s not about righting a wrong or making up for withdrawing from the Austrian meet in 2013 and 2015 due to injuries.

“It’s more of a sense of missing out on something very cool,” Eaton said. “It’s the home of the multi events, really.”

Eaton isn’t ready to commit yet, but he could see a scenario where he trains through the Götzis meet in May and then decides if he wants to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London, where he won his first Olympic gold medal. He has a bye into worlds as the defending champion.

“It would be a nice bookend,” Eaton said.

When Eaton recently spoke with 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner on the phone, Eaton had one main question: Was it tough to leave the sport?

Jenner never competed in another decathlon after the Montreal Games. Jenner woke the day after the 1976 decathlon, looked into a hotel mirror, naked except for the gold medal, and said, “What the hell am I going to do now?” according to Sports Illustrated.

Maybe Eaton knew this when he asked Jenner earlier this month. Regardless, he liked the response.

“I just looked back, and I said thanks for the great time and all the memories, and then moved on,” Jenner, who went on to endorsements galore to become America’s “Apple Pie Hero,” told him.

Eaton has fewer options than Jenner did, but certainly different and perhaps more ambitious ones, such as starting a university, according to The Associated Press.

“Track has shaped me a lot, and there will be a time to move on,” Eaton said. “I imagine it won’t be super difficult, because I’ll have fond memories.”

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Jeremy Abbott to skip 2016-17 season, train for Olympic year

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Jeremy Abbott will take a second straight season off from top-level competition, but he would still love to skate in a third Olympics in 2018.

But he’s not yet committing to a run for Pyeongchang, either.

“I committed myself to training for next season,” Abbott, a four-time national champion whose last major event was the January 2015 U.S. Championships, said in a recent phone interview. “I haven’t committed to anything past that.”

When Abbott’s name was not on the fall Grand Prix Series assignments list, it was logical to surmise he would not be competing on the top international level at all this season.

He will still take part in the Japan Open, a free skate-only event Oct. 1 that includes the world’s top skaters and those retired from Olympic-level competition. He will also do shows, such as his own Aspen event in December. Same as last year.

Abbott is still training at the Detroit Skating Club with longtime coaches Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen. At 31 years old, time is not on his side.

“I know the state of the sport, it keeps growing and these boys keep improving,” said Abbott, a 2014 Olympic team event bronze medalist whose best individual finish in seven Olympics/worlds trips was fifth. “I have a lot to offer figure skating. On the other side of it, if this is going to be something realistic, I need to be doing multiple [quadruple jumps]. I’m working on my strength and my consistency more than anything.”

Abbott also said in spring 2015 reports that he would not return to competition if he couldn’t land two different quadruple jumps.

If Abbott does decide next year to return to top-level competition for an Olympic run, he would be trying to become the oldest U.S. Olympic singles skater since 1932, according to sports-reference.com.

“When that season rolls around, at 32 [years old], being the best skater and the best technician and in the best shape I’ve been in my entire career, that’s my goal,” Abbott said. “Thirty-two is old in figure skating, but I don’t think it’s old in a lot of sports. I’m ‘old,’ but I’m not over the hill.”

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Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejects city’s 2024 Olympic bid

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ROME (AP) — Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics on Wednesday, effectively dooming the capital’s candidacy for the second time in four years.

If approved by the city assembly, Raggi’s rejection would leave only Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, in the running for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city in September 2017.

At a news conference in city hall, Raggi said it would be financially “irresponsible” to pursue the bid any further given the city is barely able to get its trash picked up. She also noted the debts that previous Olympic host cities have incurred.

“In light of the data we have, these Olympics are not sustainable. They will bring only debt,” Raggi said.

Raggi drew up a motion to withdraw the bid and put it before the city assembly Wednesday.

“It will be the city assembly, the sovereign body and democratically elected organ, that will express its position,” Raggi said. “We have illustrated our political position today. If it’s accepted by the assembly we’ll deal with the ensuing consequences (to formalize it.)”

Raggi had been scheduled to meet with Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago before going public with her decision. But 45 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to begin, Malago and the rest of the delegation left city hall saying Raggi hadn’t shown up. Malago was planning a news conference later at CONI headquarters.

Raggi, who was elected in June representing the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, campaigned with the message that an Olympic bid was unsustainable for a city struggling to emerge from years of corruption and poor public services. She said she was merely being consistent with her campaign position.

Her rejection marks Rome’s second withdrawal in four years after then-Premier Mario Monti stopped the city’s plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial problems.

The Rome bid was approved by the city assembly last year with 38 votes in favor and only six against – meaning Raggi may have to put the issue up for another vote to officially end the candidacy.

The IOC requires bidders to have support from the government and city.

Previous Mayor Ignazio Marino, who was forced out over an expense account scandal, had supported the bid. And Premier Matteo Renzi has been a big fan of the candidacy since he helped launch it in 2014. He has said the bid would be doomed if Rome’s mayor doesn’t support it.

A budget of 24 million euros ($27 million) has already been allotted – much of it spent – to the bid committee, even though candidacy head Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has no salary.

The bid is slated to be centered around Rome’s historic monuments: a cycling sprint alongside the Roman Forum, beach volleyball at the Circus Maximus and the marathon passing through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine. Plus, a nightly parade of athletes at the Colosseum.

Relying on many venues that were used for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, the candidacy proposes using existing structures for 70 percent of the required sites. The budget is projected at 5.3 billion euros ($6 billion) – 2.1 billion euros for the construction of permanent venues and the balance for temporary venues.

The bid is based on three clusters: the existing Stadio Olimpico and surrounding Foro Italico complex for athletics and swimming; the Fiera convention center near the airport for indoor sports; and an athletes village and multi-sports arena at the Tor Vergata University on the city’s outskirts.

A withdrawal would be another clear signal that the IOC still has a lot of work to do to convince cities that hosting the games is a boon and not a burden.

Voters in Hamburg rejected the German city’s 2024 bid in a referendum. Boston also dropped out last year amid a lack of public and political support and was replaced by Los Angeles.

It could also be another stinging blow for the IOC’s “Olympic Agenda 2020” program, which was designed to make bidding for and hosting the games more flexible and more affordable.

The reforms were aimed at avoiding a repeat of the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, which was depleted by the withdrawal of four cities – Stockholm; Oslo; Lviv, Ukraine; and Krakow, Poland – for political or financial reasons. Many politicians and taxpayers were scared off by the billions spent by Russia on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Planned 2022 bids by Munich and St. Moritz-Davos in Switzerland were dropped earlier. With only two final contenders for 2022, Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the IOC vote last year.

Raggi, a 38-year-old lawyer who is Rome’s first female mayor, said during her candidacy that the city needed to focus on ordinary issues before it should consider “extraordinary events” like the Olympics.

Raggi has had a rough start since taking office, with her administration falling into disarray over a spate of resignations and judicial inquiries.

During her campaign, Raggi promised to fix Rome’s transport, garbage and corruption scandals.

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