Blake Leeper

Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper surprised by idol Bo Jackson on ‘Arsenio’ (video)

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Bo knows Blake.

Blake Leeper, a two-time Paralympic medalist sprinter in prosthetic legs since he was nine months old, was a guest on “Arsenio” on Monday.

Leeper talked about his much-reported goal to run in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but that wasn’t the only reason for his appearance.

Arsenio Hall didn’t waste any time, asking Leeper, 24, about his favorite athlete as a kid.

“My guy growing up, of course, was Bo Jackson,” he said. “I was a huge Bo fan before his injury. I watched Bo, everything he did. Remember, he got hurt, his football accident. He came back with a prosthetic hip and was able to battle back his whole life, come back and compete.”

Jackson suffered a football career-ending hip injury in a January 1991 NFL playoff game with the Oakland Raiders. Leeper was 1 year old.

Jackson persevered and continued to play baseball with the Chicago White Sox and California Angels.

“As a child, seeing him, with his prosthetic hip, even though I had prosthetic legs, I just heard, ‘prosthetics,'” Leeper said. “I was really excited, and I related myself. Everywhere I would go, ‘Call me Bo. Call me Bo.'”

Hall then asked Leeper about his start in sprinting and called on somebody to bring out a pair of Leeper’s race legs.

That somebody was Jackson. Leeper’s reaction in the video below was priceless. The two champion athletes shared a 16-second hug.

“I’m speechless right now,” Leeper said, sitting next to Jackson. “This is the first time I’ve been able to actually say this. Twenty years ago, the day that I met you was truly amazing for me. I want to say thank you for never giving up on your career. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today. You inspired me to be who I am today. You inspired me to go out there and show the world that regardless of who you are, regardless of if you have a disability, it doesn’t matter. As long as you battle back, and you give it your 120 percent, you can overcome any challenge. And I thank you for that, Bo, I appreciate it.”

Jackson was appreciative as well.

“My analogy is God puts speedbumps in everybody’s road to life,” Jackson said. “It’s up to us to slow down, get over that speedbump and move on down the road.

“It’s almost like me sitting here and watching my own son. I am just that proud of him”

(h/t @forthewin)

Usain Bolt also goes on Arsenio Hall show

Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight action at European Championships

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez competes for what is expected to be the final time this weekend at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia is also looking to defend her title in the ladies’ field.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program starting on Wednesday, and NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage.

MORE: Schedule/ How to watch

Men

Fernandez, the 2018 PyeongChang bronze medalist, owns six European titles. No man since Austrian Karl Schaefer – who won eight consecutive European titles beginning in 1929 – has won as many straight titles as Fernandez. Fernandez traded world titles during the last Olympic quadrennial with his training partner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. They both train in Toronto under Brian Orser.

Also in the field are Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic, who most recently finished fourth at the Grand Prix Final at age 28, and three Russian men: Mikhail Kolyada, Maxim Kovtun, and Alexander Samarin.

Ladies

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Zagitova could lead a Russian podium sweep at the 2019 European Championships with teammates Stanislava Konstantinova and Sofia Samodurova.

The competition-within-the-competition at Europeans is also notable: Russia will not choose their World team until after the event. For example, two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is not competing at Europeans, and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was already told to train for Worlds despite not competing at Europeans.

Pairs

French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres will try and buck a trend at Europeans, where teams representing Russia or the Soviet Union have won 47 of the last 54 titles. Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are looking for a three-peat, though have been inconsistent so far this season and recently returned to last season’s short program.

James and Cipres missed out on bronze by 0.01 points at the 2018 Europeans, and could become the first French pair to win the event since 1932. The last non-Russian team to win Europeans was Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy in 2011.

Ice dance

Three-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France should coast to the gold medal in Minsk for a fifth consecutive title. Other dance teams have won more European titles, but no team has ever won five in a row.

The rest of the podium is more unclear. The Italians, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, will likely split the difference between the two Russian teams – who have their own domestic battle to contend with: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.

As a reminder, you can watch the European Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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How to watch the European Figure Skating Championships

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Javier Fernandez returns to competition for probably a final time with his eyes on a seventh title at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus Jan. 23-27.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova looks for a second European title in the ladies’ field, while two couples from France look to top the podiums in the dance and pairs’ fields.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Minsk starting Wednesday with the ladies’ short program.

NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage throughout the weekend.

Preview: Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight Europeans

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European Figure Skating Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Wednesday

Ladies’ short program: 3 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ short program: 10:45 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Thursday

Men’s short program: 4 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ free skate: 11 a.m. (GOLD), begins at 11 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Friday

Rhythm dance: 3:30 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 2 p.m. on NBCSN

Ladies’ free skate: 10 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 6 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Saturday

Men’s free skate: 3:15 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 11 a.m. on NBCSN

Free dance: 8:25 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Sunday

Ladies’ and men’s free skate: 1:30 p.m. on NBC