Harrison Dillard, Olympic 100m, 110m hurdles champ, dies

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Harrison Dillard, who was the U.S.’ oldest living Olympic champion, died after battling stomach cancer at age 96 on Friday, according to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and USA Track and Field.

Dillard was the only sprinter to win Olympic gold medals in the 100m and 110m hurdles, doing so in 1948 and 1952, respectively.

He also won 4x100m relay titles at each Games to match the career gold-medal total of Jesse Owens, whose victory parade in Dillard’s native Cleveland proved an inspiration for the 13-year-old.

“Some of us youngsters were standing on the curb when he came by in this open black car,” Dillard said, according to The New York Times. “He was wearing a black suit with pinstripes, and he said something like, ‘Hi, boys.’ I ran home and said, ‘Mama! Mama! I saw Jesse Owens, and I’m going to be just like him!’ She said, ‘Of course you are, son.’

“She didn’t take it seriously then, but later when she saw how much it meant to me she went out and cleaned other people’s houses and did their laundry and cooked for them so she could buy a little more food to build me up.”

Owens later gave Dillard his first pair of running shoes.

Dillard began hurdling earlier at age 8 — in an alley and using abandoned car seat springs as barriers, according to the International Olympic Committee.

“As inner city kids in Cleveland,” Dillard said, according to the Times, “we had three idols — Owens, Joe Louis and Henry Armstrong, who held three boxing championships. I wasn’t a fighter. I tried boxing, but every time I caught a jab my nose bled. In sandlot football I was fast enough to run with the ball but too small. I was a good baseball player; I could pitch and play shortstop and the outfield, the way all kids do, and I was a switch-hitter. But this was before Jackie Robinson, when there was no place for blacks in baseball.”

Dillard, nicknamed “Bones” for being slender, served in World War II in Europe as a member of the Buffalo Soldiers, African-American troops who fought in Italy from 1943-45, according to the OlyMADMen.

Three years after the war, Dillard returned to Europe to compete in the 1948 London Games, but not in his primary event.

At trials, he had an 82-race win streak in the hurdles snapped, failing to finish.

“I hit the second, third, fourth and fifth hurdles with the heel of my leading foot, and by the eighth my timing was off so bad that I finished last, the only time I ever did,” Dillard said in 1979, according to the Times.

No matter, he had placed third in the 100m at trials and then pulled off the upset for the Olympic title by outleaning countryman Barney Ewell in 10.3 seconds.

Four years later, Dillard did make the 110m hurdles team and led a U.S. medals sweep at the Helsinki Games, clocking 13.7 seconds.

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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