Usain Bolt
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Usain Bolt discusses viral photo on TODAY

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By now, if you follow the Olympics, you have seen the photo at the top of this story. It shows Usain Bolt calmly looking backwards and smiling at his opponents, who are straining just to stay in the frame during the 100m semifinal in Rio.

The photo, captured by Getty Images’ Cameron Spencer, went viral and quickly became a meme.

The world’s fastest man was asked about the photo during an interview on TODAY this morning.

“People kept on saying, ‘Why were you smiling?’” Bolt said. “I was like, ‘I was just happy!’”

The appearance began a busy day in New York for Bolt, who hosted at least two Facebook Lives and wore the referee-inspired Foot Locker uniform during an appearance for Puma.

Bolt was asked who will win the 100m gold medal at the 2020 Olympics during a Facebook Live with Sports Illustrated. While Bolt admitted that a lot could change between now and then, he identified Canada’s Andre De Grasse as a potential favorite. De Grasse, the sprinter on the far left of the viral photo, won three sprinting medals in Rio, including the 100m bronze medal.

“I know he has the talent,” Bolt said.

Bolt added little clarity to the ever-changing narrative of when he will retire.

During the TODAY appearance, he reiterated that he would retire after the 2017 World Championships in London. Later in the day, he told Sports Illustrated that there was a chance he would keep racing after 2017.

“It’s definitely slim, but you never know,” he said. “That’s why my coach says, ‘Stop saying you are going to retire. Enjoy it, and after the season, if you feel like it’s time, then you retire.’”

Bolt, jokingly, even left the door open to retiring from track before the 2017 World Championships.

“If I had the chance to play for Manchester United, I would go right now,” he said on his personal Facebook Live. “I would retire and start playing futbol right now. That’s how much I really want to play for Manchester United.”

Bolt also discussed his post-track plans, for whenever that will be.

He wants to open a health clinic in Jamaica to help young athletes get medical treatment. He also is hoping to stay involved in track and field, but not as a coach.

“No, that is not going to happen,” Bolt said, laughing, during his personal Facebook Live. “I’ll do motivational talking, I’ll do all these things, but I don’t think I’ll ever go into coaching. Coaching is just so much, it’s hard. The stress I put my coach through and all that…sorry, I know I disappointed a lot of people.”

He does not plan in following in the footsteps of U.S. sprinters Ryan Bailey and Tyson Gay, who have tried bobsledding.

“It’s already cold in a jacket in the snow,” Bolt said in Sports Illustrated’s Facebook Live. “To be in full tights? No.”

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Sam Mikulak to retire from gymnastics after Tokyo Olympics

Sam Mikulak
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Sam Mikulak, the U.S.’ top male gymnast, said he will retire after the Tokyo Olympics, citing a wrist injury and emotional health revelations during a forced break from the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It does sound like some pretty crazy news, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Mikulak said in a YouTube video published Sunday night. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it during quarantine.”

The 27-year-old is a two-time Olympian, six-time U.S. all-around champion and the only active U.S. male gymnast with Olympic experience.

Mikulak said he noticed significant wrist inflammation last year that was temporarily healed by a November cortisone shot. But during quarantine, the wrist worsened even though he wasn’t doing gymnastics. He took a month off from working out, but the wrist didn’t heal.

He thought for a time that he might not return to gymnastics at all. A doctor told him he would need cortisone shots for the rest of his career.

“At that point, it was really made for me that this has to be my final year of gymnastics because I don’t want to ruin myself beyond this sport,” Mikulak said.

Mikulak also noted realizations from the forced time out of the gym. He learned that he’s much less stressed while not doing gymnastics, a sport he began at age 2. Mikulak’s parents were gymnasts at Cal.

“For so long, I’ve been sacrificing, and I’m sick of it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to be free from gymnastics and being able to do all these things that I’ve been putting off in my life for so long.”

Mikulak realized a career goal in 2018 when he earned his first individual world championships medal, a bronze on high bar. He wants to cap his career with a first Olympic medal in Tokyo, then, perhaps, become a coach or open his own gym.

Mikulak recently got engaged to Mia Atkins, and they got another puppy, Barney.

“Everything I’ve done in gymnastics is enough for me right now,” said Mikulak, who plans to document the next year on YouTube. “I was actually somewhat happy that I was able to come to that type of decision because for so long I felt like gymnastics really wasn’t going to be fulfilling until I’ve gotten my Olympic medal. And during quarantine, I had this whole revelation where, you know what, I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life, and I’m not doing gymnastics, so even if I don’t accomplish these goals, I am still going to be so damn happy.”

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April Ross, Alix Klineman complete perfect, abbreviated AVP season

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April Ross and Alix Klineman consolidated their position as the U.S.’ top beach volleyball team, completing a sweep of the three-tournament AVP Champions Cup on Sunday.

Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Klineman won the finale, the Porsche Cup. They won all 12 matches over the last three weekends, including the last 14 sets in a row, capped with a 21-18, 21-17 win over Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil in Sunday’s final.

“It feels like we’re midseason in a normal year,” Ross said on Amazon Prime. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

The AVP Champions Cup marked the first three top-level beach volleyball tournaments since March, and a replacement for a typical AVP season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The setting: on the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center parking lot without fans and with many health and safety measures.

AVP is not part of Olympic qualifying. It’s unknown when those top-level international tournaments will resume, but Ross and Klineman, ranked No. 2 in the world, are just about assured of one of the two U.S. Olympic spots.

According to BVBinfo.com, they’re 10-0 combined against the other top U.S. teams — Claes and Sponcil and triple Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, who are likely battling for the last U.S. Olympic spot.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who do not play on the AVP tour, have a lead for the last spot more than halfway through qualifying, which runs into June.

Earlier in the men’s final, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb kept 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena from sweeping the Champions Cup. Bourne and Crabb prevailed 21-17, 15-21, 15-12 for their first AVP title since teaming in 2018.

Bourne, who went nearly two years between tournaments from 2016-18 due to an autoimmune disease, and Crabb redeemed after straight-set losses to Dalhausser and Lucena the previous two weekends. Crabb guaranteed a title on Instagram days before the tournament.

“Those guys are the best in the world, and they make you look bad at times, but we’re relentless,” Bourne said on Amazon Prime. “You’re going to have to play the best volleyball in the world to beat us every time.”

Bourne and Crabb, Dalhausser and Lucena and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb (Trevor’s younger brother) are battling for two available U.S. Olympic spots in Tokyo.

MORE: Team Slaes looks to end Kerri Walsh Jennings’ Olympic career

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