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South Africa 2024 Olympic bid ‘unrealistic,’ official says

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South Africa appears unlikely to bid for the 2024 Olympics.

“In 2024 it will be quite unrealistic because we would have just staged the 2022 Commonwealth Games,” South Africa sports minister Fikile Mbalula said, according to insidethegames. “So I think the Olympics will come later.”

Mbalula’s comments follow a steady stream of reports the last three months casting doubt on South Africa’s hope to become the first African host nation for an Olympics in 2024.

Previously, on Dec. 1, International Olympic Committee member and former South African Olympic Committee president Sam Ramsamy said South Africa was “readying to bid for the 2024 Games.”

Since then, the South African city of Durban emerged as the favorite to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, especially with Edmonton withdrawing from that bid race on Feb. 11.

No other cities are thought to be vying against Durban, meaning it should be announced as the 2022 Commonwealth Games host last this year.

Mbalula said that hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games make a 2024 Olympic bid less likely.

The most recent African Olympic bid was by Cape Town for the 2004 Olympics, which were won by Athens in 1997. Cape Town was third in voting.

South Africa, the first African nation to host the World Cup in 2010, previously discussed bidding for the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

Confirmed 2024 Olympic bids are coming from Boston, Rome and either Berlin or Hamburg. Paris and other cities may also bid. The 2024 Olympic host will be determined via an IOC vote in 2017.

Full coverage of 2024 Olympic bidding

Gracie Gold qualifies for nationals, Polina Edmunds shut out

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2014 Olympian Gracie Gold qualified for the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships by virtue of a third-place finish at the Eastern Sectional Singles Final on Saturday in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

“Bronze: so hot this fall,” Gold posted on Instagram. She last competed at U.S. nationals in 2017, when she finished sixth. She won the national title in 2014 and 2016.

Gold sat second after the short program with 63.55 points, and ultimately finished third overall with 109.90 points in the free skate for 173.45 points. The top four at the event qualify for the national championships in Greensboro, North Carolina in January.

Her free skate included a fall on the opening triple Lutz and an under-rotation on the triple Lutz, double toe loop combination. She also put a hand down on the landing of a double Axel. The rest of the program, though, was clean.

Her performance, set to “She Used to be Mine” by Sara Bareilles, can be found at the 2:05 mark of the on-demand stream of the event for NBC Gold Pass subscribers.

Meanwhile, her Sochi teammate Polina Edmunds was shut out of nationals based on a fifth-place finish at the Pacific Coast Sectional Singles Final (top four qualify). Her performance can be found for NBC Gold Pass subscribers at the 1:50 mark of the on-demand stream for the event. Edmunds last competed at Nationals in 2016, when she earned the silver medal behind Gold.

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season 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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Bronze: so hot this fall 🥉

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Brittany Bowe extends unbeaten streak to open speed skating World Cup

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Brittany Bowe extended one of the most dominant runs for any U.S. Winter Olympian, earning her first straight World Cup 1000m win to open the season on Sunday.

Bowe, fourth and eighth in the event at her two Olympics, clocked 1:15.35 in Minsk, Belarus, to beat PyeongChang gold medalist Jorien ter Mors by six tenths. Ter Mors missed all of last season after knee surgery.

Bowe won every World Cup 1000m dating to last December, plus her second world title in the event last February, lowering track records at each stop.

She ended last season by breaking the world record by .48 of a second on the fast ice of the 2002 Olympic oval in Kearns, Utah. That time — 1:11.61 — would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1997.

Bowe, a former Florida Atlantic point guard who missed all of 2016-17 with a concussion, is up to 23 career World Cup wins. That’s fifth on the U.S. all-time list behind Bonnie Blair (69), Shani Davis (58), Dan Jansen (46) and Heather Bergsma (34), according to schaatsstatistieken.nl.

The World Cup moves to Poland next week.

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