Katie Ledecky, Claressa Shields, Gwen Jorgensen, Simone Biles

Who is the most dominant U.S. woman on road to Rio Olympics?


U.S. women outnumbered the U.S. men in total athletes, total medals and gold medals at the London 2012 Games.

It appears women (not allowed to compete in the first modern Games in 1896) will continue to lead the American contingent in Rio, based on results since the London flame was extinguished on Aug. 12, 2012.

Swimming has become a “Big Four” sport, like men’s tennis, with Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte being joined by Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team is as deep as ever, with perhaps its greatest all-arounder of all time in Simone Biles. London Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman are back, too.

The most recognizable U.S. track and field athletes are women — Lolo Jones (409,000 Twitter followers) and Allyson Felix (210,000). That’s just the start.

Four women are dominating in particular.

Simone Biles
Sport: Gymnastics
Credentials: 2013, 2014 World all-around champion; nine medals from last two World Championships
Last Defeat: March 30, 2013 (all-around competition only)

The 18-year-old Texan is on the short list of most decorated U.S. gymnasts, even though she hasn’t competed at an Olympics. Her nine Worlds medals are second all time among Americans behind Alicia Sacramone. This year, she can become the first U.S. woman to win three World and/or Olympic all-around gold medals.

Her weakness? The uneven bars. Biles captured World gold medals on floor exercise and balance beam in 2014 and silvers on vault the last two years, but she was fourth on bars in 2013 and 57th in 2014.

Martha Karolyi on Simone Biles’ dominance, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman returns

Gwen Jorgensen
Sport: Triathlon
Credentials: 2014 World champion; eight straight World Triathlon Series victories
Last Defeat: April 26, 2014 (World Triathlon Series competition only)

The former Ernst & Young accountant is in the midst of the longest top-level women’s triathlon winning streak since the sport was added to the Olympics in 2000. Jorgensen won her last two races by more than one minute each time, the largest margins of victory of any woman since 2010.

Her dominance is most apparent on the run. If anything can stop Jorgensen, it’s bike problems. She punctured a tire and finished 38th at the London Olympics. In her last defeat on April 26, 2014, she was held up by a bike crash in front of her.

Gwen Jorgensen leads historic U.S. triathlon sweep at Gold Coast

Katie Ledecky
Sport: Swimming
Credentials: Olympic, World 800m freestyle champion; World-record holder in 400m, 800m, 1500m frees
Last Defeat: Jan. 18, 2014 (200m, 400m or 800m freestyle in Olympic-sized pool only)

No woman was within 4.5 seconds of Ledecky in the 800m free last year, and none were within 27 seconds of her in the 1500m free. Alas, the women’s 1500m free is not an Olympic event. Her 1500m world record was faster than Ryan Lochte‘s time in the event at the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials, and she swam in mixed-gender races with her club team this past season.

Ledecky looks like an early overwhelming favorite in Rio in the 400m and 800m frees, but as the distances get shorter, she becomes beatable. She ranked No. 2 in the world in the 200m free last year, to Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom. If she wants to swim the 100m free and make a U.S. 4x100m relay, she would probably have to slightly improve on her personal best.

Katie Ledecky faces decisions in 2015, 2016

Claressa Shields
Sport: Boxing
Credentials: Olympic, World middleweight champion
Last Defeat: May 13, 2012 (her only defeat)

The Flint, Mich., native is 52-1 and so intimidating that her 2014 World Championships first-round opponent’s trainer threw in the towel to end the fight at the 11-second mark. She was named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament across all divisions.

A challenge for Shields, whose boyfriend is a sparring partner, has been finding women willing to compete against her. That’s an obstacle foreign to Biles, Jorgensen and Ledecky.

Rio 2016 Olympics day-by-day events to watch

Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

Lance Armstrong
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

Alpine Skiing World Championships
Leave a comment

The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!