Michael Phelps tribute at Golden Goggles (video)

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NEW YORK — Michael Phelps looked out into a Times Square hotel ballroom, filled with many athletes whom he inspired, and delivered an acceptance speech for an award honoring his impact on swimming.

The 23-time Olympic champion held a smartphone in his right hand and occasionally peered at it as he again thanked the most important people in his life. His voiced cracked.

Phelps reflected, again, on his stated goal when he turned professional at age 16 in 2001: to change the sport of swimming.

He saw a room full of swimmers at the Golden Goggle Awards. The annual event debuted in 2004, shortly after Phelps won his first eight medals in Athens and three years before the iPhone.

“We’ve done it, look at this,” Phelps said. “2000, this never would have happened. 1996, never would have happened.”

Phelps won three Golden Goggle Awards on Monday night. He acknowledged that they would be his final three, but that stated goal from 16 year ago remains.

“There’s a lot more change that can be done to make this even bigger,” Phelps said not of the awards show but of the sport’s growth. “I’m so excited and looking forward to that opportunity.”

Former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol presented the Impact award to Phelps.

Ebersol acknowledged four people who impacted Phelps’ life — mother Debbie Phelps, coach Bob Bowman, agent Peter Carlisle and wife Nicole Phelps.

“I was lucky enough at the forefront of American media covering the Olympics, from the mid-’90s until almost London, and if there was one person that defined that entire era, it was Michael,” Ebersol said. “We followed him from the time he was a 15-year-old in Sydney, on and on through the incredible performance in Athens to the miraculous performance in [Beijing] to the, really, mind-boggling thing of him, probably only half-prepared, still winning gold medals in London and then the glorious finish to the greatest career in Olympic history by any athlete in Rio.

“Michael’s whole run was something that everybody in America got to share.”

Before Phelps exited the stage one last time, he offered these final words:

“I will always be here. Anything you guys ever need, please, let me know, if I can ever help.”

MORE: Phelps makes retirement official

Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia
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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”