Michael Phelps has no worries about fiancée, son going to Rio Olympics

Michael Phelps, Nicole Johnson
Getty Images
2 Comments

Despite an outbreak of the Zika virus, Michael Phelps says his fiancée and newborn son will accompany him to the Rio Olympics.

Nicole Johnson is due to give birth to the couple’s first child in May. She is with Phelps this week at the Arena Pro Series meet in Orlando (NBC Sports Live Extra, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. ET), one of the key tuneup events for the Olympics that begin Aug. 5.

Zika has become an epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean since last fall. The virus is mainly spread through mosquito bites and has been potentially linked to birth defects.

“We’re not worried about it,” Phelps said. “I think if you go into any Olympics, there’s always something that comes up.”

Of course, it would be a different story if Johnson was scheduled to deliver after the games.

“If she was pregnant, she definitely wouldn’t go,” Phelps said. “But she’s fine about it. She’s not missing it. And I wouldn’t want the little guy to miss it either. He won’t be able to remember it. But he’ll have a story to tell.”

Two of the top U.S. female swimmers, Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin, have no concerns about competing in Rio.

The 18-year-old Ledecky, expected to be one of the biggest American stars, said the U.S. Olympic Committee has done a good job keeping the athletes informed about the potential risks and steps it is taking to ensure their safety.

“I’m confident,” she said, “that we’ll be able to go to Rio and be prepared for all the situations.”

Franklin, who won four gold medals at the 2012 London Games, expressed a similar sentiment.

“Whenever we go to new countries, USA Swimming and the USOC prepare us for whatever we’re going into,” the 20-year-old Franklin said. “I know this will be no different.”

In fact, she’s hoping to stay in Rio a few extra days after the Olympics.

“I’m so excited. I’ve heard so many great things about the culture there,” said Franklin, who has never been to South America. “That’s my favorite part of traveling, experiencing the culture and the people.”

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
Getty
0 Comments

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
Getty
0 Comments

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”