Brazil names its Olympic sports athletes of the year

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Brazil’s Olympic Committee announced the nation’s Olympic sports athletes of the year Tuesday, another indicator of host nation athletes to watch at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Gymnast Arthur Zanetti won the men’s award, while sailors Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze shared the women’s honor.

The awards, formerly chosen by the public, were voted on by journalists, sports officials, former athletes and sports personalities this year.

Zanetti became Brazil’s first Olympic gymnastics medalist in 2012 when he won still rings gold. He won silver at the World Championships this year behind China’s Liu Yang.

Grael and Kunze won the 49er FX class at the World Championships this year and the Olympic test event in Rio.

Brazil has won more Olympic gold medals in sailing than any other sport.

Zanetti won the men’s award for the second time in three years. Grael and Kunze became the first female sailors to win the women’s award.

No men’s or women’s soccer player has won the award, given since 1999.

They are eligible, as Marta has been a finalist before, though Brazil has never won an Olympic men’s or women’s soccer gold.

This year’s other finalists were archer Marcus Vinicius d’Almeida and basketball player Tiago Splitter for the men and open-water swimmer Ana Marcela Cunha and judoka Mayra Aguiar for the women.

In other awards news Tuesday, speed skater Ireen Wust and soccer player Arjen Robben won the Netherlands’ athletes of the year.

Wust was the most decorated athlete at the Sochi Olympics with five medals, including two golds.

Robben, who hasn’t competed in an Olympics, won over all of the Netherlands’ individual Olympic champion speed skaters — Jorrit Bergsma, Stefan Groothuis, Sven Kramer and Michel Mulder.

Wust won over European track and field champions Dafne Schippers (100m and 200m) and Sifan Hassan (1500m) and Olympic 1500m speed skating champion Jorien Ter Mors.

Spain’s Olympic Committee honored figure skater Javier Fernandez and swimmer Mireia Belmonte with its athlete of the year awards.

Fernandez just missed becoming Spain’s third Winter Olympic medalist ever in Sochi, finishing fourth. He won World Championships bronze in March and silver at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona last week.

Belmonte won six medals at the European Championships, including two golds.

2016 Olympic track and field schedule released

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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