U.S. Olympic basketball teams to stay on cruise ships in Rio

Copacabana Beach
AP
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro’s renovated port area should be hopping — or “hooping” — during the Olympics.

The United States men’s and women’s basketball teams will be staying on a cruise ship in the port. A second and much larger liner will be anchored alongside during the games and provide lodging for what officials term the “Olympic Family.”

The NBA is also expected to set up a “hospitality house” in the port area.

“We’ll have two cruise ships in the port,” Nilo Sergio Felix, secretary of the Rio de Janeiro state tourism office, told The Associated Press. “There will be one with the basketball players and the other for Olympic people. These are the only two we expect.”

The ship housing the basketball stars will be the relatively small “Silver Cloud” operated by Silversea Cruises, which bills itself as the “Leader in Luxury Cruising.”

The company lists the ship’s capacity at 296 with a tonnage at 16,800. Its last cruise is in the Mediterranean in June before heading for the Olympics.

Craig Miller, a spokesman for USA Basketball, the national governing body, declined to confirm where the two basketball teams would stay. He listed security as a reason for not disclosing the location, but said the men’s team stopped staying in the Olympic Village beginning with the 1992 Olympics — the first appearance of “The Dream Team.”

“We don’t stay in the village because we don’t feel it’s the best way to prepare for competition,” Miller told the AP. “The players have a long professional season and they want to spend as much time as possible with family and friends.”

Miller said it was always difficult during the Olympics to find lodging for the large American basketball delegation. The United States teams stayed in hotels in London and Beijing, and on a cruise ship in Athens in 2004 — the Queen Mary 2.

He said USA Basketball picks up the costs of the lodging, an expense that would be covered primarily by games organizers if players stayed in the village.

Miller said tall players have the same problem no matter where they stay.

“You face the issue in a hotel, or you would face it in a village; the beds aren’t made for 7-foot (2.13-meter) players,” he said. “These guys live on the road and they figure out ways to sleep. Sometimes I’ve seen them put their luggage at the end of the bed so their feet can rest there.”

Rio’s new port area, centered on Praca Maua, is the most visible sign of change that Olympic organizers promised to bring to Rio. The centerpiece at the port is the Museum of Tomorrow, a science museum designed by the futuristic architect Santiago Calatrava.

The port is situated on heavily polluted Guanabara Bay, which will host Olympic sailing. Sadly, it’s a reminder of a broken promise by organizers to cleanse the fetid waters.

“From a legacy perspective, I think this was a missed opportunity to reach the goal that was supposed to be achieved,” Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said Thursday, referring to Olympic bid pledges to drastically cut the amount of raw sewage flowing into the bay.

The port area is remote from the basketball venues at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca and the northern cluster in Deodoro, where some women’s games will be played. Travel could take more than an hour depending on traffic, a problem that should be improved when the Olympic lanes — set aside only for Olympic traffic — start operating in late July.

The NBA is also expected to run a hospitality venue in the port, probably in one of the abandoned warehouses that have been used for exhibitions by companies like Nike.

An NBA spokeswoman declined to specify the plans, saying they would be released shortly.

The “Olympic Family” will stay on the cruise ship “Getaway” operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines. The company listed the capacity at 4,000 guests and tonnage of 145,655. It’s one of the world’s largest cruise ships.

Rio organizers confirmed the ship’s presence. They said 90 percent of the ship would be reserved for the “Olympic Family,” a term that takes in sponsors, national Olympic committees, sports federations and other guests of the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee.

Rio officials said the remaining 10 percent of the cabins would be sold in tour packages by the Brazilian operator Tam Viagens.

A company spokeswoman for Norwegian Cruise Lines declined to give information, saying it was bound by contract not to disclose details.

VIDEO: Rio 2016 Olympic venues time lapse

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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