Atlanta Olympic venues, 20 years later (photos)

AP
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ATLANTA (AP) — Twenty years after the Olympics were held in Atlanta, some remnants of that improbable summer remain a highly visible part of the city’s landscape, while others quickly faded away.

Centennial Olympic Park and Turner Field — known as Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996 — were the greatest legacy of those games, though the latter faces an uncertain future after just 20 seasons as home of baseball’s Atlanta Braves, who are moving to a new suburban stadium next year.

Other venues barely outlasted the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, while still more failed to live up to their intended purpose.

A look at Atlanta’s Olympic facilities two decades later:

CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC STADIUM: The 85,000-seat main stadium was site of athletics (Michael Johnson‘s world record, Carl Lewis‘ farewell) and both the opening and closing ceremonies (Muhammad Ali‘s poignant lighting of the torch). Afterward, the arena was converted into a 50,000-seat baseball park and renamed after the longtime owner of the Braves, Ted Turner. It hosted both the World Series and the All-Star Game during its early years, but the Braves have fallen on hard times and are moving to SunTrust Park in 2017. Georgia State is exploring the possibility of another conversion, which would downsize Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium.

This photo combo shows a July 19, 1996 file photo of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony at Centennial Olympic Stadium, top, and a Friday July 15, 2016 photo of fireworks after an Atlanta Braves baseball game at what is now named Turner Field in Atlanta. The 85,000-seat main stadium was the site of athletics and both the opening and closing ceremonies. Afterward, the arena was converted into a 50,000-seat baseball park and renamed after the Braves' owner, Ted Turner. The Braves have fallen on hard times and are moving to SunTrust Park in 2017. Georgia State is exploring the possibility of another conversion, which would downsize Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File, John Bazemore)

GEORGIA DOME: A divider transformed this 70,000-seat football stadium into two separate arenas — one the site of second Olympic Dream Team winning gold in men’s basketball, the other where the Magnificent Seven captured America’s first victory in women’s team gymnastics. Just 25 years after its opening, the dome is slated for demolition after $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next door in 2017.

In this Monday, July 18, 2016 photo, a statue of a gymnast stands between the Georgia Dome, right, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games gymnastics and basketball events and current home of the Atlanta Falcons football team, and the Falcons' new stadium under construction at left. A divider transformed the Georgia Dome, a 70,000-seat football stadium into two separate arenas, one the site of second Olympic Dream Team winning gold in men's basketball, the other where the Magnificent Seven captured America's first victory in women's team gymnastics. Just 25 years after its opening, the dome is slated for demolition after $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next door in 2017. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK: This was the hub of the games, a gathering spot for sponsor tents and nightly concerts. Tragedy struck midway through the Olympics when a deadly bombing ripped through the park, but it emerged afterward as a catalyst of downtown development, now surrounded by the hugely popular Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and a giant Ferris wheel.

GEORGIA TECH AQUATIC CENTER: Temporary seating was used during the Olympics, providing a 14,600-seat main pool for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. There also was a 4,000-seat temporary pool for water polo. After the games, Georgia Tech enclosed the facility and reduced capacity to just under 2,000. This year, it hosted the NCAA swimming championships as well as a pre-Olympic camp for the U.S. swim team before it departed for the Rio Olympics.

In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, a diver stands on a diving board during practice at Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming events in Atlanta. Temporary seating was used during the Olympics, providing a 14,600-seat main pool for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. There also was a 4,000-seat temporary pool for water polo. After the games, Georgia Tech enclosed the facility and reduced capacity to just under 2,000. This year, it hosted the NCAA swimming championships as well as a pre-Olympic camp for the U.S. swim team before it departed for the Rio Olympics. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

GEORGIA WORLD CONGRESS CENTER: One of the world’s largest convention centers (and even more sprawling today after a post-Games expansion), it was divided into five separate arenas during the Olympics, reducing the need for wasteful new venues for fencing, handball, judo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. That became a model for future Olympics.

ATLANTA-FULTON COUNTY STADIUM: Site of baseball during the Olympics, the former home of the Atlanta Braves served out the 1996 season, then was imploded the following summer to make way for a parking lot serving adjacent Turner Field.

In this Wednesday, July 20, 2016 photo, visitors stand next a piece of the outfield wall of what used to be Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games baseball event, and former home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta. The stadium served out the 1996 baseball season, then was imploded the following summer to make way for a parking lot serving adjacent Turner Field. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

OMNI COLISEUM: Just a week before Atlanta Stadium came down, this facility used for volleyball during the Olympics met the same fate. Philips Arena now occupies the site.

GEORGIA INTERNATIONAL HORSE PARK: Equestrian, modern pentathlon and the first Olympic mountain bike competition were held at the park about 30 miles east of Atlanta. It remains an equestrian and events center, with horse and mountain bike trails plus an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course open to the public.

STONE MOUNTAIN PARK ARCHERY CENTER AND VELODROME: Temporary facilities for archery and track cycling came down shortly after the Olympics. The site is now part of a songbird and habitat trail.

STONE MOUNTAIN TENNIS CENTER: A permanent tennis facility built in a corner of Stone Mountain Park quickly became a money loser and now sits idle, weeds growing through the outer courts and the scoreboard in disrepair.

SANFORD STADIUM (Athens, Georgia): The home of the Georgia Bulldogs football team hosted soccer finals, including the U.S. memorably winning the first women’s gold. The stadium known for its famous hedges (which were taken down during the Olympics and then re-planted) has been expanded to hold more than 92,000.

ALEXANDER MEMORIAL COLISEUM: Site of boxing in 1996, Georgia Tech’s basketball arena underwent a massive renovation that completely gutted the interior of the building. It reopened in 2012 as gleaming McCamish Pavilion.

HERNDON STADIUM: Perhaps the saddest legacy of the games, this 15,000-seat stadium was used during the filming of the movie “We Are Marshall” but was abandoned after Morris Brown College ran into financial difficulties. Gutted by vandals, it is now covered in graffiti and piles of trash.

LAKE LANIER (Gainesville, Georgia): This man-made lake still has its rowing facilities, which have been used for major competitions over the last two decades. This year, it hosted an Olympic qualifier for Rio.

WOLF CREEK SHOOTING COMPLEX: Some facilities remain at this suburban venue now known as the Tom Lowe Shooting Grounds, but it no longer holds major international events.

ATLANTA BEACH: Located south of the city, this venue was site of the first Olympic beach volleyball tournament. It was renamed Clayton County International Park, with the main stadium now used for concerts and other events though the park still includes several beach volleyball courts, as well as a water park, lake and biking trails.

GOLDEN PARK (Columbus, Georgia): The 5,000-seat stadium, about a two-hour drive from Atlanta, was used for the first Olympic softball competition. It served for years as home to minor league baseball, but the last of those teams, the Columbus Catfish, left after the 2008 season. The stadium remains but no longer has a major tenant.

OTHER VENUES: Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum (volleyball preliminaries), Georgia State’s GSU Sports Arena (badminton), Clark-Atlanta’s Panther Stadium (field hockey) and Morehouse’s Forbes Arena (basketball preliminaries) are still used by their respective colleges. In fact, Panther Stadium now holds the athletics track used during the Olympics. The Ocoee Whitewater Center in Tennessee (whitewater canoeing) and Wassaw Sound near coastal Savannah, Georgia (sailing) were temporary venues. Preliminary soccer matches were held in four stadiums outside Atlanta. Birmingham’s Legion Field, Orlando’s Citrus Bowl and Washington’s RFK Stadium are still in use, while Miami’s Orange Bowl was torn down to make way for a new baseball stadium.

Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
Getty
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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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.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

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.

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.

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