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.

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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