usain bolt

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.

Mikaela Shiffrin returns with mantra, stuck to her helmet, to carry forever

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Look close at Mikaela Shiffrin as she steps into a race start gate for the first time in eight months on Oct. 17.

Shiffrin, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Cup overall champion, plans to wear a helmet with two special stickers on the back.

She’s donned the first decal for years — the initials ABFTTB, which stand for “Always Be Faster Than The Boys,” a personalized autograph motto from retired Olympic Alpine skier Heidi Voelker.

The new sticker reads, Be nice. Think first. Have fun.

Those lines came from Shiffrin’s father, Jeff — the mantra instilled in her and older brother Taylor, also a young ski racer at the time.

After Jeff died on Feb. 2, Shiffrin regularly remembered the question that Jeff posed years ago: “What are the golden rules?”

Be nice. Think first.

When the Shiffrin siblings were old enough, Jeff added the third rule.

“He felt like we could understand that having fun wasn’t just about going and doing whatever you want because it’s instantly gratifying,” Shiffrin told NBC Sports’ Alex Azzi in an On Her Turf interview. “Fun is doing something well and the satisfaction you get from sticking to something.”

She plans to race all season with the golden rules sticker on her helmet, right next to ABFTTB.

Shiffrin detailed more about her prep for a very different World Cup campaign, in conjunction with a new fund in honor of her late father, in this On Her Turf report.

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2020 Tour de France results

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2020 Tour de France results for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:05
2. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — +:59
3. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:30
4. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +5:58
5. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +6:47
7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:48
8. Rigberto Uran (COL) — +8:02
9. Adam Yates (GBR) — +9:25
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — +14:03
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +25:53
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:03:07
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:54
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:19:11
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 380 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 284
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 260
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 181
5. Wout van Aert (BEL) — 174

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 82 points
2. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:13
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:43
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:55:12
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:15:39

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