Aria Fischer to become youngest U.S. woman in summer Olympic team sport

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When the U.S. women’s water polo team begins competition in Rio, they’ll attempt to become the first women’s team to collect consecutive Olympic gold medals. Yet, the squad’s youngest player will achieve a historic distinction just by hopping in the pool.

Seventeen-year-old Aria Fischer will be the youngest U.S. woman to compete in a summer team sport at the Olympics. She’ll be the first 17-year-old to do so.

Here is the list as it stands before Rio:
Nancy Lieberman – 18 years and 19 days old – basketball (1976 Games)
Cindy Parlow – 18 years, 75 days – soccer (1996)
Christa Williams – 18 years, 164 days – softball (1996)
Laurie Lewis – 18 years, 298 days – volleyball (1968)
Maggie Steffens – 19 years, 87 days – water polo (2012)
Katelyn Falgowski – 19 years, 290 days – field hockey (2008)
Angie Raynor – 21 years, 124 days – handball (2008)

However, Fischer will not be the youngest U.S. female team sport athlete in all Olympics. Lyndsay Wall was 16 years old when she competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic hockey tournament.

She also will not be the youngest U.S. Olympic water polo player ever, as Bob Saari competed as a 16-year-old at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

But, if the U.S. gets on the podium, Fischer would become the youngest U.S. Olympic water polo medalist, the youngest female Olympic water polo medalist from any nation, and the fourth-youngest water polo medalist all-time.

If the U.S. women defend their title, as they are favored to do, Fischer would be the youngest U.S. woman to win gold in a team sport at the Olympics. She’d be the second-youngest woman from any country, as Cuba’s Regla Torres was a slightly younger 17-year-old when she won volleyball gold in 1992.

Taking men into account, a gold medal would make Fischer the second-youngest of all water polo players to win gold, and the youngest in 64 years. Hungary’s Gyorgy Karpati was a few months younger at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Those would be some impressive achievements for an already-impressive water polo family. Aria’s older sister, Makenzie, is also on the Rio Olympic team at age 19. And their father, Erich, was a member of the U.S. men’s water polo team that placed fourth at the 1992 Olympics.

NBC Olympics research contributed to this report.

MORE: U.S. Olympic women’s water polo squad set, eyes another gold medal

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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