Who will light Rio 2016 Olympic cauldron?


The Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony is Aug. 5, 2016, and the star of the night is already a topic of conversation.

Who will light the Olympic cauldron at the Maracanã?

All signs point to Pelé as the favorite, but while the soccer icon is perhaps Brazil’s greatest athlete of all time, he never played in an Olympics.

If Rio organizers choose an Olympian as the final torch bearer, they could look to a man who competed in the trademark event of the Games, endured an attack and offered forgiveness to a man who tried to ruin the race of his life.

Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei de Lima was leading the Athens 2004 Olympic marathon, run on the famed route that inspired the 26.2-mile race in 490 BC, from Marathon to Athens, with about four miles to go.

That’s when a defrocked Irish priest ran onto the course and grabbed de Lima. The Brazilian was passed less than 10 minutes later and earned bronze, but he smiled and blew kisses as he entered the stadium used at the first modern Olympics in 1896 to cross the finish line.

De Lima holds no ill-will toward his attacker.

“For me my achievement in Athens is much higher than that episode,” de Lima, who also received a second medal from the International Olympic Committee for an exceptional display of Olympic values, said in an email.

De Lima is a candidate to light the Rio Olympic cauldron who is praised as humble by Brazil’s 1984 Olympic 800m champion Joaquim Cruz, who lit the cauldron at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio, and by Brazilian media.

Read more about de Lima, his attacker and his life since the Athens Olympics in this NBC SportsWorld story.

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun

Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei

World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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