The search for a new U.S. gymnastics captain

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The eight year de facto U.S. gymnastics team captain, Alicia Sacramone, announced her retirement from the sport late last month, and so this post started as a tear-stained, high school diary entry. But that didn’t seem totally appropriate. Instead I’ve decided to be positive, kind of, and pick who might be the next Alicia. Unfortunately Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, who took charge of the role while Alicia was out with an Achilles injury, isn’t in the picture for 2013 and hasn’t announced any future intentions to continue in the sport. So we have cross her off for now. Who’s next?

1. Jordyn Wieber – Wieber seems like the obvious choice. She’s mentally tough and physically dependable. She showed strength of character by putting her personal disappointment aside and coming through big time to help her team clench gold in the Olympic team final. Sounds like leadership material to me. She’ll be one of the most experienced, and most decorated seniors going into the 2013 season.

2. Elizabeth Price – Ebee was phenomenal at Olympic Trials. Still a little green, she was just short of making the team and settled for alternate. Since then she’s been on fire winning two world cup all-around titles and gaining valuable international experience. Ebee has the respect of the other elite gymnasts and in time could grow into a team leader with her positive outlook and powerful presence.

3. Mckalya Maroney – Maroney recently revealed she’s, “not done” and that she’d like to compete at the 2013 national championships and make the world team. She’s admitted that it’s a long shot due to her 2012 surgery following a tour related injury, but that doesn’t mean she can’t contribute leadership. Maroney only competed one event for team USA in London, but she was by far the biggest cheerleader for the entire team on the sidelines. Plus, she has that natural leadership swagger.

4. Rebecca Bross – No word yet from Bross on retirement (which is a good thing). Touted as the future of USA gymnastics in 2009, Bross had a meltdown at the U.S. Trials and failed to the make the team as an event specialist. Yet, she’s the most decorated world championship gymnast of the last four years (six world medals) and having seen both great success and great disappointment she has the right perspective that makes a great leader. Bross has been there and could be trusted to help lift a team up. She gets my vote.

Who gets yours?

IOC group proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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International Olympic Committee members will decide next month whether to tweak the definition of an Olympic host to make it clear that it does not necessarily refer to a single city but can also mean multiple cities, regions and even countries, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

“It’s not an encouragement to spread the Games out as much as possible,” Bach said in announcing the IOC’s executive board approved the measure. “It may be preferable to have a region as a signatory or an additional signatory of the host city contract rather than just a city, and therefore, we wanted to enjoy this flexibility. This, on the other hand, does not change our vision, our request and our focus on having not only an Olympic Village, but to have an Olympic center.”

It’s one of six proposed changes by a working group chaired by Australian IOC member John Coates to examine the bid process. Another is to make the timing of Olympic host city elections more flexible. Typically, hosts are elected seven years before the Games, though two years ago an exception was made in the double awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Games to Paris and Los Angeles.

Bach repeated that the proposals are “to avoid producing too many losers as we had it in the past candidature procedures.”

The IOC previously said in 2014, in announcing Agenda 2020, that it “will allow events held outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country, notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”

This shift manifests in Stockholm’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid plan to have sliding sports in Sigulda, Latvia, home of the nearest existing track for bobsled, luge and skeleton, rather than building a costly new track in Sweden.

IOC members will vote to choose the 2026 Winter Games host next month. The finalists are Stockholm and a joint Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, after five other potential candidates were dropped for various reasons.

There is precedent for events held far from the Olympic host city. In 1956, Melbourne held the Summer Games and had equestrian events in Stockholm due to quarantine laws in Australia. Similarly, equestrian at the 2008 Beijing Games was held in Hong Kong.

Soccer matches are often held in cities across the host country. Recent Winter Olympics have had mountain events in a different city or area than arena events.

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IOC board recommends AIBA suspension, boxing stays in Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee executive board recommended that AIBA has its recognition as boxing’s international federation suspended but that the sport remains on the Olympic program at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

An IOC decision on the recommendation will be made next month. The IOC created a group to organize 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying and competition if AIBA will not be allowed to run it.

“We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release. “At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”

The IOC said in October that boxing’s place in the Olympics was “under threat” after being introduced at the 1904 St. Louis Games and held at every Games since except Stockholm 1912.

In November, the IOC ordered an inquiry into AIBA, which has been in financial turmoil, faced claims of fixed bouts at the Rio Games and elected a president linked to organized crime.

That president, Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov, stepped aside in March to let an interim leader take charge but said he was not resigning. Rakhimov is on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to an organized crime group in former Soviet Union republics involved in heroin trafficking. He denies any wrongdoing.

“Serious governance issues remain, including breaches of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics regarding good governance and ethics, leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders,” the inquiry committee concluded. “AIBA has been unable to demonstrate a sustainable and fair management of refereeing and judging processes and decisions, increasing the lack of confidence that athletes can have in fair competitions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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