An Usain Bolt press conference should be its own event

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RIO DE JANEIRO – I can tell my kids one day that, yes, I was there when Usain Bolt snapchatted a Scandinavian journalist rapping him a love song.

“I don’t really have a question,” a man claiming to be a Norwegian media member said at a press conference Monday evening. “I just want to say, I really love you man.”

And then he broke into song:

Usain Bolt, you’re my favorite guy. 

I’m loving your moves, and your feet and your style 

I hope that you win, I hope that you got the golden ring

I hope you get to go and not get followed by a Segway.

Nothing quite brings the world together like a Bolt “press conference.”

VIDEO: Usain Bolt had (too much?) fun at his press conference

In 2012, a Chilean women elicited laughter at Bolt’s pre-Olympic conference by telling him he was gay (the happy version, it was clarified after the question) and then asking when he would come to Chile to spin records as a DJ. Bolt was also asked in London if he had been given any of the free condoms at the athletes’ village.

In 2014 at the Commonwealth Games, an Australian journalist used his opportunity to ask Bolt a question to request a selfie. Bolt said he would oblige later.

Two weeks ago, I received an email invitation to a Jamaica Olympic Association-Puma event scheduled for Aug. 8 at a place called Cidade das Artes in southwest Rio.

Bolt’s name was not in the text, but it was implied. He is Puma’s worldwide ambassador.

Naturally, I googled the venue. The second sentence in its Wikipedia entry says the building was inaugurated in January 2013 with the musical, “Rock in Rio.” Seemed a perfect place to introduce Bolt for his fourth and final Games.

I arrived at the venue Monday evening and walked past an unfilled kiddie pool, a mix of tourists and even more adults in Team Jamaica outfits.

Even so, you wouldn’t have guessed Bolt was set to hold court.

There were no front-and-center signs outside referencing Bolt, which must have been by design. I found a table lined with green-and-gold clad officials, a check-in as I suspected, and made my way up to what was billed as “the largest theater in South America.”

Inside, there were about 20 rows of red seats. And three tiers of balconies. I could not see the stage from the back doors, however, as dozens of camera crews had already set up.

MORE: How to watch Usain Bolt at the Rio Olympics

They were accompanied by raised bleacher seating that resembled a large summer camp bonfire, enough for a few hundred more media members.

The 2000 Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards emceed the hour-long show. And a show it was.

A video montage of Jamaica’s Olympic legends preceded the question-and-answer sessions. Jamaica has won 67 medals, it pointed out – 66 in track and field, 1 in cycling.

Bolt was saved as the last athlete to talk.

First, other track and field team members came up in waves before him, but with every question asked, we all knew that might mean one fewer question for Bolt if they wanted to keep on schedule.

Finally, Bolt entered to applause at 6:30 p.m. This kind of welcome is generally frowned upon at press conferences, but this was no ordinary press conference.

“First of all, you’ve got to clap louder than that,” Bolt said as he walked across the stage in a gold shirt and backwards cap toward Edwards. “That was weak.”

And so Bolt went on answering questions.

He lamented having to buy a TV for his room here, that fellow sprinter Asafa Powell takes his shirt off to much and said, as he does in every large media gathering, that he wants to run sub-19 seconds for the 200m one day.

There was one bit of actual news amid the splendid celebration.

Bolt, coming off a hamstring injury, said his coach called his only Olympic tune-up race two weeks ago “one of the worst races” he’s ever run. Bolt seemed unconcerned.

Bolt does enter these Olympics as the fourth-fastest man in the 100m this year, and the fifth-fastest in the 200m. But nobody has beaten him to the finish line of an Olympic or world championships final since 2007.

The latter fact carries more weight than the former stat as Bolt readies for his 100m opening round Saturday. The 100m semifinals and final are Sunday.

Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final