Madrid 2020 gathers Spanish sports stars to promote bid before IOC vote

Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt, Pau Gasol
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Madrid is getting serious about the Sept. 7 vote for the host city of the 2020 Olympics, bringing in the country’s most famous sports stars to endorse its candidacy.

Basketball player Pau Gasol, tennis player Rafael Nadal, soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo (who is Portuguese but plays for Real Madrid) and retired cyclist Miguel Indurain recently filmed a promotional video, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

Gasol, who recently attended the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, is expected to be on hand in Buenos Aires for the International Olympic Committee vote Sept. 7. IOC members will choose from among Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul to be the host city of the 2020 Olympics.

Nadal may be there, too, according to Benabeu Digital, pending his performance at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday. The men’s final is Sunday, Sept. 8.

Gasol was Spain’s flag bearer at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. A three-time Olympian, he helped Spain to silver medals in 2008 and 2012.

Nadal made his Olympic debut at age 18 in 2004, playing doubles with Carlos Moya. He didn’t medal until 2008, winning men’s singles gold, and missed the 2012 Olympics due to injury.

Ronaldo played for Portugal at the 2004 Olympics at age 19. The Portuguese were beaten by Iraq and didn’t make it out of group play.

Indurain, the five-time Tour de France champion from 1991 to 1995, competed in two Olympics separated by 12 years. He won gold in the time trial at the 1996 Games, where Lance Armstrong finished sixth two months before he was diagnosed with cancer.

Isinbayeva slams hometown

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”