Lindsey Van

Who should be U.S. flag bearer in Opening Ceremony?

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The U.S. Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer is usually chosen two days before the Games. Therefore, everyone has another week to debate who this year’s choice should be.

The U.S. flag bearer generally falls into one or more of three categories — medal favorite (Mariel Zagunis, 2012), longtime Olympian (Mark Grimmette, 2010) or fascinating backstory (Lopez Lomong, 2008).

(Technically, a flag bearer doesn’t have to be an Olympian. Boxer/politician Manny Pacquiao carried the Philippines flag at the 2008 Olympics.)

With that in mind, NBC Olympics compiled a list of 13 candidates (plus the ubiquitous “other”) to carry the Stars and Stripes into Fisht Stadium on Feb. 7. One can vote here.

Here are 13 potential flag bearers:

Erika Brown, Curling — First competed at the Olympics in 1988 at age 15, when curling was a demonstration sport.
Julie Chu, Hockey — Only four-time U.S. Olympic hockey player in Sochi.
Emily Cook, Aerials — Competing in her third Olympics. Made the 2002 Olympic Team but withdrew due to injury.
Meryl Davis and Charlie WhiteFigure Skating — Only U.S. gold-medal favorites in figure skating.
Shani Davis, Speed Skating — Could become first U.S. man to win the same Winter Olympic event three times.
Chris Fogt, Bobsled — A U.S. Army Olympian.
Steven Holcomb, Bobsled — Drove the U.S. to its first four-man bobsled since 1948 in 2010.
Todd Lodwick, Nordic Combined — First six-time U.S. Winter Olympian.
Bode Miller, Alpine Skiing — First five-time Olympic Alpine skier.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, Skeleton — Skeleton gold-medal co-favorite, mother of two.
Kikkan Randall, Cross-Country Skiing — Favored to win first U.S. Olympic cross-country gold medal.
Lindsey Van, Ski Jumping — Veteran anchor of first U.S. Olympic Women’s Ski Jumping Team.
Shaun White, Snowboarding — Could become first Winter Olympian to enter at least four career events and win gold medals in all of them.

Who will represent U.S. Figure Skating in Olympic team event?

Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles headline Inspiration Games; TV, stream info

Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles
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In Allyson Felix‘s 17 years on the senior international level, she has never experienced anything like what Thursday will bring.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist, will line up at a track in California to race 150 meters. Her opponents will be on the other side of the country — Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo in Florida — and the other side of the Atlantic Ocean — Swiss Mujinga Kambundji in Zurich.

The Inspiration Games air live on Thursday from 2-3:30 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The meet is a repurposed version of a Diamond League stop in Zurich, Switzerland.

“I’ve just been training and training and training, so anything to break it up. … this seemed like something great. I just loved the concept,” said Felix, who memorably raced alone in at the Rio Olympics in a re-run of the 4x100m first round. “I’m not really sure what to expect. I think [it’s] the first time that we’ve all done anything like this. I’m just approaching it to have fun and hopefully give people something to watch and to be entertained by. I think we all miss sports so much.”

Meet organizers had to get creative with the coronavirus pandemic limiting athlete travel and group events. The Impossible Games was first to go on June 11, with limited athletes competing in an Oslo stadium (and others competing in different countries).

The Inspiration Games takes virtual competition to another level. Felix, Miller-Uibo and Kambundji are all slated to sprint at the same time in different locations. As are world champion Noah Lyles, Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre and the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina in a later 200m.

It marks the first meet since the coronavirus pandemic for Felix, bidding to make her fifth Olympic team and first as a mom. The pandemic and restrictions in California forced her to train on streets.

“Everything is still pretty much locked down,” she said. “You can’t get onto a track without jumping a fence.”

Lyles raced last Saturday at a small meet in Florida, outsprinting Justin Gatlin in a 100m heat (9.93 seconds to 9.99 with a hefty 4 meter/second tailwind).

The regular Diamond League calendar is scheduled to resume in August.

Here are the Inspiration Games entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:35 p.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
1:35 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:05 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:10 — Women’s 150m
2:27 — Men’s 100 Yards
2:41 — Women’s 300m Hurdles
3:06 — Men’s 200m
3:20 — Women’s 3x100m Relay

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:35 p.m.
Greek Katerina Stefanidi, a Stanford grad, and American Sandi Morris renew their rivalry. Stefanidi will be in California. Morris will be in Florida. Swede Angelica Bengtsson rounds out the field. Stefanidi relegated Morris to silver at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds. But Morris snapped’ Stefanidi’s streak of eight straight wins in their head-to-head back in 2018 and has bettered Stefanidi in four of their last six meetings.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:05 p.m.
Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor takes on longtime rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo, a Cuban-born Portuguese, and American Omar Craddock. Taylor bettered Pichardo in five of their last six meetings. In more than 30 meets together, Taylor has lost to Craddock just once (when Taylor has competed in full).

Women’s 150m — 2:10 p.m.
Felix and Miller-Uibo go head to head for the first time since the 2017 World Championships. Their most memorable duel came at the Rio Olympics, where a diving Miller-Uibo edged Felix by .07 for 400m gold. While Miller-Uibo and Felix primarily compete over a full lap, the 150m is closer to Kambundji’s wheelhouse. The Swiss earned 200m bronze at the 2019 World Championships, taking advantage of a depleted field.

Men’s 100 Yards — 2:27 p.m.
Triple Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada, Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica and French veteran Jimmy Vicaut all train in Florida and will presumably be racing at the same venue on Thursday. The 100 yards is scantly contested in top-level meets. Nobody has broken nine seconds in a 100-yard (91.44-meter) race, according to World Athletics. But Usain Bolt‘s estimated 100-yard time en route to his 2009 world record in the 100m was 8.87 seconds.

Men’s 200m — 3:06 p.m.
Lyles has lost an outdoor 200m just once in this Olympic cycle and wouldn’t normally be pestered by Lemaitre or Martina, but these are unusual times and this an unusual competition. Lemaitre is the Olympic bronze medalist but was sixth at last year’s French Championships. Martina, 36, and, like Lemaitre, hasn’t broken 20 seconds in more than three years.

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Usain Bolt shares first photos of baby daughter, Olympia Lightning Bolt

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Usain Bolt shared the first public photos — and the unique name — of his daughter, Olympia Lightning Bolt.

Bolt’s girlfriend, Kasi Bennett, gave birth in May.

“Now we have started a new chapter together with our daughter Olympia Lightning Bolt,” was posted on Bolt’s social media. “I look forward to what the future will bring for us but be reassured that I will be the ROCK for this family.”

Another famous Olympic champion, Serena Williams, named her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in 2017.

In Olympic history, one Olympian went by the name “Olympia,” according to Olympedia.org. That’s Australian rower Olympia Aldersey, who placed seventh in Rio in the eight event.

In February, Bolt said he would not encourage his child to pursue sprinting.

“That’s going to be hard for my kid,” he said during Super Bowl weekend in Miami. “If they want to do it, I’m fine with it. But initially I’m going to say don’t do it, ’cause I know the pressure that will come along with it.”

After Kobe Bryant‘s death, Bolt said he was hoping for a daughter.

“I could see in his eyes how much he loved his girls,” Bolt said. “I would love to have that feeling.”

Bolt, 33, has said he hopes to have three children.

“I’m excited, but I’m nervous,” he said. “I’ve always been a fun guy, I’ve always been that person. But should I be that person and make my girlfriend be the bad guy? Those are the questions I’m asking, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bolt, who holds world records in the 100m (9.58 seconds) and 200m (19.19), retired after the 2017 World Championships. The Tokyo Olympics in 2021 will be the first Games without the Jamaican legend since the 2000 Sydney Games.

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