Four years ago USA Boxing experienced major disappointment in men’s boxing, failing to win a single medal in London. While the United States hasn’t experienced much success over the last six Summer Olympics in the sport, winning a total of 16 medals, 2012 represented the low point for the program. The hope of the USA Boxing roster in Rio is to spark a turnaround, and they’ll begin that quest Saturday morning.
WATCH: Olympic Men’s Boxing Prelims, Morning Session on NBCOlympics.com
The United States will have two boxers competing on the first day of the tournament, with lightweight Carlos Balderas competing during the morning session and light flyweight Nico Hernandez fighting during the evening session. Balderas qualified for the Olympic team through his performances at last year’s World Series of Boxing, becoming the first American boxer to qualify for the Games in that fashion.
Balderas finished tied for fifth in last summer’s Pan American Games in Toronto, and he opens his Olympic tournament against Berik Abdrahkhmanov of Kazakhstan Saturday morning. Abdrahkhmanov won bronze at the 2013 World Championships and gold at the 2013 Asian Championships.
WATCH: Olympic Men’s Boxing Prelims, Evening Session on NBCOlympics.com
As for Hernandez, he qualified for the Olympics by way of the American Boxing Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Buenos Aires in March, where he finished second in the light flyweight division. Hernandez’s win over Argentina’s Leandro Blanc in the semifinal round punched his ticket to Rio, where he’ll fight Manuel Cappai of Italy Saturday evening. While Hernandez will be making his Olympic debut Saturday, Cappai is making his second appearance. Cappai lost in the first round of the light flyweight tournament in London four years ago.
Saturday the men’s boxing tournaments in the light flyweight, lightweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight classes begin, with the welterweight division’s preliminary bouts scheduled to begin Sunday.
Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.
“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”
The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.
Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.
Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.
ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!
Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.
Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.
“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”
Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”
London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!