J.R. Celski finishes 4th in short track 1500m; Canada’s Charles Hamelin wins

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J.R. Celski has opened his Sochi Olympics with a fourth-place finish in the 1,500m final this morning at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Celski, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist in this distance, advanced into the medal final with a win in his semifinal heat.

But in the main event, he fell back after dueling in mid-race for the lead with Canada’s Charles Hamelin and China’s Tianyu Han.

In the end, it was Hamelin who won out over Han to claim the third Olympic gold of his career. He won two golds on home ice in Vancouver four years ago (500m, 5000m relay).

MORE: NBCOlympics.com – Slideshow of Charles Hamelin’s 1500m victory

Taking the bronze was Viktor Ahn, who earned Russia’s first-ever Olympic medal in short track.

It’s the second career Olympic bronze for Ahn, who won three gold medals and his first bronze for South Korea at Torino in 2006 under his birth name, Ahn Hyun-soo.

The Seoul native became a Russian citizen in late 2011.

Meanwhile, Celski still has several events ahead of him in Sochi. So while he was unable to hit the 1500m podium today, he still has a few chances to make an impact.

SHORT TRACK – MEN’S 1500m
1. Charles Hamelin (CAN), 2:14.985
2. Tianyu Han (CHN), 2:15.055
3. Viktor Ahn (RUS), 2:15.062
4. J.R. Celski (USA), 2:15.624

19. Eddy Alvarez (USA), eliminated in semifinals
21. Chris Creveling (USA), eliminated in heats

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement