An Usain Bolt press conference should be its own event

usain bolt

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.

2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
1 Comment

The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They meet in Friday’s semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

IOC board recommends withdrawing International Boxing Association’s recognition

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Boxing

The IOC finally ran out of patience with the International Boxing Federation on Wednesday and set a date to terminate its Olympic status this month.

While boxing will still be on the program at the 2024 Paris Games, the International Olympic Committee said its executive board has asked the full membership to withdraw its recognition of the IBA at a special meeting on June 22.

IOC members rarely vote against recommendations from their 15-member board and the IBA’s ouster is likely a formality.

The IOC had already suspended the IBA’s recognition in 2019 over long-standing financial, sports integrity and governance issues. The Olympic body oversaw the boxing competitions itself at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 and will do so again for Paris.

An IOC statement said the boxing body “has failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC … for lifting the suspension of the IBA’s recognition.”

The IBA criticized what it called a “truly abhorrent and purely political” decision by the IOC and warned of “retaliatory measures.”

“Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court,” the boxing body’s Russian president Umar Kremlev said in a statement.

The IOC-IBA standoff has also put boxing’s place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games at risk, though that should now be resolved.

The IOC previously stressed it has no problem with the sport or its athletes — just the IBA and its current president Kremlev, plus financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom.

In a 24-page report on IBA issues published Wednesday, the IOC concluded “the accumulation of all of these points, and the constant lack of drastic evolution throughout the many years, creates a situation of no-return.”

Olympic boxing’s reputation has been in question for decades. Tensions heightened after boxing officials worldwide ousted long-time IOC member C.K. Wu as their president in 2017 when the organization was known by its French acronym AIBA.

“From a disreputable organization named AIBA governed by someone from the IOC’s upper echelon, we committed to and executed a change in the toxic and corrupt culture that was allowed to fester under the IOC for far too long,” Kremlev said Wednesday in a statement.

National federations then defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing as their president Gafur Rakhimov, a businessman from Uzbekistan with alleged ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.

Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC warnings that went unheeded.

Amid the IBA turmoil, a rival organization called World Boxing has attracted initial support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain.

The IBA can still continue to organize its own events and held the men’s world championships last month in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!