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Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky impress each other

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky met for the first time in 2015, when they were nominees for the same award. Ezekiel Elliott won.

Biles and Ledecky, who have a combined five gold medals at these Games and could finish with nine between them, came to New York City in April 2015 for the Sullivan Award ceremony.The award goes to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S. (the definition of amateur athlete is used loosely in choosing nominees). Past winners include Michael Phelps, Michelle Kwan and Tim Tebow.

Biles and Ledecky were nominated for their 2014 performances – Ledecky winning five gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships and Biles winning a second straight world all-around title.

But the award went to the then-Ohio State running back Elliott.

“Ezekiel truly epitomizes what the AAU Sullivan Award is all about – leadership and excellence both on and off the field,” AAU President Dr. Roger Goudy said in a press release then.

Biles is from Texas. Ledecky from Maryland. They each made the New York trip during the middle of their seasons, got dressed up and did media appearances before the ceremony that ended up crowning Elliott (but honoring all nominees).Biles’ coach, Aimee Boorman, jokes about it now.

“We were like, what, seriously, all right whatever,” Boorman said with a laugh and a smile and no disrespect Friday morning.

Biles said she and Ledecky exchanged little more than polite greetings at that first meeting.

“Everyone’s pretty shy, even though you’re at the same place for the same reason,” Biles said. “So we barely talked, but then we saw each other in L.A. [at pre-Olympic media shoots], and that’s when we started talking.”

Congratulations, good luck at your next meet, stuff like that.

Then on June 11, the 4-foot-9 Biles actually mounted a swimming starting block at an indoor pool, had it filmed and tweeted it at Ledecky.

“Yes @Simone_Biles! Great technique! You are more than welcome on the @USASwimming team!” Ledecky tweeted back.

 

Ledecky has tweeted 747 times, including about once every 12 days in the last year. Biles has tweeted more than 7,250 times.

On Biles’ first day in Rio, she saw Ledecky in the athletes’ village, ran up and hugged her.

“Simone’s kind of animated,” Boorman said. “Katie’s kind of chill.”

Asked if she could compare anything about the athletes’ accomplishments, Boorman remembered walking behind two male and two female swimmers the other day. They were discussing how hard it was for the male swimmer to train with Ledecky, who has been known to beat men in practice.

Then the male swimmer asked how Ledecky will fare if she swims at Stanford starting next year (Ledecky has not turned pro, so she is still eligible for NCAA competition).

“I don’t know, because she needs to train with the guys just to have someone to push her, someone to challenge her,” Boorman remembered the female swimmer saying.

“So that says how dominant she is,” Boorman continued. “It’s funny, because I’ve heard male gymnasts talk about Simone that way. They get upset that she can tumble and vault better than they can.”

Ledecky will end her Olympics on Thursday night as an overwhelming favorite in the 800m freestyle. If she wins, she will become the third U.S. woman to win four gold medals at a single Olympics, joining Missy Franklin and Amy Van Dyken.

Biles gets Friday and Saturday off before returning for apparatus finals Sunday (vault), Monday (balance beam) and Tuesday (floor exercise). If she sweeps them, which is possible to probable, she will surpass Ledecky, Franklin and Van Dyken with five golds.

As impressive as that would be, Biles looks at what Ledecky does and gives a look of dread.

“I would drown for sure,” Biles said.

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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