Steven Holcomb’s Olympic gold-medal teammate has moving tribute

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Steve Mesler shared a four-man bobsled with Steven Holcomb for Olympic and world titles. Their friendship was about much more than medals, as Mesler illustrated in a moving Facebook post Sunday, one day after Holcomb’s death.

“The privilege of having Holcy in my life and climbing the podium with him is an honor I’ll keep close for the rest of my days,” Mesler wrote. “He shaped the kind of person, and leader, I am today. Without him in my life, so much of who I am and what I’ve become would be incredibly different for more reasons than I’m able to list, for more reasons than I can say.”

Like Holcomb, Mesler was a 2002 Olympic alternate. They both made the 2006 Olympic team, Holcomb as a driver and Mesler as a push athlete for Todd Hays.

Mesler joined Holcomb’s crew after Torino and experienced incredible success. Multiple World Cup wins in four straight seasons, a world title in 2009 and an Olympic title in 2010.

“What we did together is something the child in me never would have imagined,” Mesler wrote. “All of us who were lucky enough to compete with him understand what an incredible soul, quiet leader, complicated person and unimaginably talented driver of sleighs he was.”

Mesler also posted his video compliation from 2010 of Holcomb performing his “Holcy Dance” around the world leading up to the Vancouver Olympics.

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MORE: Coroner: Cause of Holcomb’s death unclear

Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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MORE: Top luge moments from PyeongChang Olympics

Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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