Larry Bird

Boston’s ties to the Olympics

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In Boston, the U.S. Olympic Committee chose a a site for its 2024 Olympic bid that has never been an official Olympic bid city before.

But that’s not to say Boston and its surrounding area don’t have ties to the Olympic Games.

Several of Boston’s most famous athletes are Olympians. And several of the most famous U.S. Olympians lived in Boston, starting with the first modern Olympic gold medalist, Athens 1896 triple jumper James Connolly, who was born in Boston and attended Harvard.

For more recent Olympians, let’s start with the major professional team sports stars.

Boston Celtics Olympians include Larry Bird (gold, 1992), Kevin Garnett (gold, 2000) and Bill Russell (gold, 1956).

Boston Bruins Olympians include Ray Bourque (fourth place with Canada, 1998), Zdeno Chara (Slovakia, 2006, 2010, 2014) and Tim Thomas (silver, 2010). Bobby Orr is not an Olympian but did carry the Olympic flag at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony.

Boston Red Sox Olympians include Nomar Garciaparra (fourth place, 1992), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japan, 2000, 2004, bronze medalist) and Jason Varitek (1992).

Other notable Boston-area natives to star in the Olympics include Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig, captain and goalie of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won gold. Eruzione and Craig were from Massachusetts and played at Boston University.

Olympic medalists swimmer Jenny Thompson, judoka Kayla Harrison, figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie and gymnasts Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone are from the Boston area.

Don’t forget the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race. Last year, three-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi became the first U.S. man to win the race since 1983. Keflezighi won 2004 Olympic marathon silver. Joan Benoit won two Boston Marathons before she captured the first Olympic women’s marathon in Los Angeles in 1984.

In 2010, Vermont moguls skier Hannah Kearney wore a Jacoby Ellsbury Red Sox shirt under her Opening Ceremony uniform during the Parade of Nations. Kearney won gold the next day.

One of the world’s most prestigious rowing events, the Head of the Charles Regatta, takes place on Boston’s Charles River. Retired British Olympic legends Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent rowed there in 2014, their first time in competition together since Sydney 2000.

Many U.S. Olympic women’s hockey players have Boston ties. Four-time medalists Angela Ruggiero and Julie Chu played at Harvard.

Olympic historian Bill Mallon pointed out that Harvard’s stadium hosted some preliminary 1984 Olympic soccer matches as part of the Los Angeles Games.

Many more U.S. Olympic greats have ties to New England, such as Connecticut’s Alex Deibold (Sochi snowboard cross bronze medalist), Maine’s Seth Wescott (two-time snowboard cross gold medalist) and Vermont’s Kelly Clark (three-time snowboard halfpipe medalist), Bode Miller (six-time Alpine skiing medalist), Ross Powers (two-time snowboard halfpipe medalist), Mikaela Shiffrin (Sochi slalom champion of Burke Mountain Academy) and Hannah Teter (two-time snowboard halfpipe medalist).

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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