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LeBron James takes in Berlin track meet, his latest Olympic sports mix

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LeBron James met fellow Olympic champions runner Caster Semenya and discus thrower Robert Harting at a track and field meet at Berlin’s historic Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

James, in Germany as part of a Nike promotional tour, was later reading about Jesse Owens on the way to an airport, according to one of his friends’ Instagram accounts.

James is an experienced Olympic sports spectator. He attended swimming finals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, sitting with Dara Torres in Beijing.

At Beijing’s Water Cube, Michael Phelps said he heard James and Kobe Bryant ”starting cheers and getting everybody going” as he chased Mark Spitz‘s record of seven gold medals in the pool, according to The New York Times.

In London, James and another swimmer, relay gold medalist Lauren Perdue, were joined in headlines after she turned down his invitation to eat with her at the dining hall.

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James also took in beach volleyball in Beijing with Jason KiddKobe BryantChris Paul and Carlos Boozer.

James, Bryant and Paul all became acquainted with Phelps, sharing conversations in Phelps’ retirement. Fellow swimmer Jason Lezak also provided this story from Beijing:

“I remember leaving the pool, and we were all in the elevator together, me and all these NBA guys,” Lezak said. “I was like, this is so cool. Kobe says to me, ‘Right before the elevator stops, check this out, I’m going to sit here in the back, LeBron’s going to walk out and get swamped, and I’m going to get right on the bus.’ LeBron was swarmed. Sure enough, Kobe sneaks right onto the bus.”

Similar stories date to the first Olympics with NBA players in 1992 — such as Larry Bird and the Dream Team meeting U.S. female gymnasts on a bus in Barcelona. Or 4-foot-6 gymnast Ragan Smith taking a photo with 6-foot-11 center DeAndre Jordan in Rio.

Also in Barcelona, Karl Malone befriended Oscar De La Hoya and huddled with the boxer’s family during his first bout en route to gold. Bird went to a U.S. baseball game and met the players in the dugout, according to Sports Illustrated.

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Hayley Wickenheiser is 7th woman elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Hayley Wickenheiser
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Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time who retired in 2017, will be the seventh female player in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The six-time Canadian Olympian (once in softball) was elected in her first year of eligibility. Wickenheiser is joined by Sergei Zubov, who earned gold at the 1992 Albertville Games with the Unified Team, two-time Czech Olympic medalist Václav Nedomanský and 1980s and ’90s NHLer Guy Carbonneau, among others.

The induction ceremony is Nov. 18 in Toronto.

Wickenheiser is the fifth Canadian female player elected after Angela James (2010), Geraldine Heaney (2013), Danielle Goyette (2017) and Jayna Hefford (2018). Americans Cammi Granato (2010) and Angela Ruggiero (2015) are also Hall of Famers.

Wickenheiser, now the Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development, earned four golds and one silver in the first five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments. She played 23 years for the Canadian national team, earning seven world titles and being named Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006.

She also carried the Canadian flag at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony and recited the Athletes’ Oath at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony. She was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 2014.

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Breaking provisionally added for 2024 Olympics

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Breaking (don’t call it break dancing) was provisionally added to the Olympics for the 2024 Paris Games.

The IOC also announced Tuesday that skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were provisionally added to the 2024 Olympic program. Those three sports will debut at Tokyo 2020 but were not assured places on the Olympic program beyond next year.

“They contribute to making the program more gender balanced and more urban, and offer the opportunity to connect with the younger generation,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release. “The proposed sports are in line with these principles and enhance Paris 2024’s overall dynamic Games concept, which focuses on inclusivity, inspiring a new audience and hosting socially responsible Games.”

The IOC Executive Board will make the final decision on the Paris 2024 event program in December 2020, but no more sports can be proposed for inclusion. That means baseball and softball, which return to the Olympics next year, will not be on the 2024 Olympic program. Those sports can still be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Breaking debuted at the Youth Olympics last year, where the U.S. did not have any athletes. Sergei “Bumblebee” Chernyshev of Russia and Ramu Kawai of Japan took gold medals.

Breaking had never previously been up for a vote for Olympic inclusion, but the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the IOC.

Teenagers, some of whom went by nicknames like Bad Matty, Senorita Carlota and KennyG, went head-to-head in dance battles at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires last year. They performed on a mat atop an outdoor basketball court to a musical beat and emcees.

Judges determined winners using six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, perfomativity and musicality.

“Breaking (also called b-boying or b-girling) is an urban dance style,” according to the Youth Olympics. “The urban dance style originated during the mid 1970s in the Bronx borough of New York City.”

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