Americans dot dominant Olympic teams of 2010s decade

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NBCSports.com looks back at the 2010s decade this week. Here are six Olympic teams (in team sports) that dominated the last 10 years …

U.S. Men’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014 World titles

The successors to the Redeem Team kept the U.S. Olympic dominance intact in London and Rio, going undefeated under coach Mike KrzyzewskiKevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have to be the MVPs, going one-two in scoring for the Americans at both Games. Anthony became the first U.S. man to earn three Olympic basketball titles and broke LeBron James‘ career U.S. Olympic points record. The decade ended on a sour note, with the Americans losing in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals in September under new coach Gregg Popovich.

U.S. Women’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014, 2018 World titles

Undefeated in FIBA competition in the 2010s, winning every Olympic and World Cup game by double digits and by an average of 32 points per game. Former University of Connecticut stars Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Tina Charles were part of every major international roster. Their college coach, Geno Auriemma, was at the helm through the Rio Games. Since, Dawn Staley succeeded Auriemma. Another UConn great, Breanna Stewart, took MVP at the 2018 World Cup.

Canada/U.S. Women’s Hockey
Combined to win every Olympic and world title in the 2010s
Two Olympic finals decided in overtime or shootout

Canada had the edge by winning two of the three Olympic titles. The U.S. owned the rivalry at the world championships — winning six of seven titles. These two national teams define women’s hockey, and so they both belong on this list. It began in Vancouver, where 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice, fellow Olympic rookie Shannon Szabados stopped all 21 U.S. shots and the Canadians celebrated on ice with Molsons, cigars and at least one ice-resurfacing machine. In Sochi, the U.S. squandered a one-goal lead with a minute left, with Poulin scoring the equalizer and the overtime winner. Canada nearly completed a perfect Olympic decade in PyeongChang, giving up a third-period lead and falling in a shootout that went to an extra round. The U.S. was led by stalwart forward Hilary Knight, twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando and 20-year-old Olympic rookie goalie Maddie Rooney.

Russia Synchronized Swimming
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
Won all 10 world titles in the 2010s in technical/free routines

Russia owns every Olympic gold medal this millennium in synchronized swimming, which is now called artistic swimming. The dynasty draws from Russia’s balletic traditions. If the program was weak in any aspect, it was from a lack of male synchronized swimmers. But not anymore. The mixed-gender duet events aren’t part of the Olympic program yet, but two debuted on the world championships program in 2015. It wasn’t until this past summer that Russia swept those gold medals.

U.S. Women’s Water Polo
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2015, 2017, 2019 World titles

The Americans are 149-4 dating to 2015, not dropping a game at an Olympics, World Championship, World Cup or a World League Super Final in that span. They’re currently on a 65-game win streak. They have three games left in 2019, looking to finish 37-0 to complete the first perfect calendar year during the current reign of dominance. Adam Krikorian has been head coach for the entire decade with a bevy of talent at his disposal. The most prominent is Maggie Steffens, a member of every title team this decade at the Olympics, worlds, World Cup and World League.

Honorable Mention: Sweden Women’s Curling and Canada Men’s Hockey.

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BEST OF 2010s: Summer Olympians | Winter Olympians | Teams
MOMENTS: Summer Olympics | Winter Olympics | Paralympics | Viral

Eddy Alvarez, Olympic short track medalist, to play for Miami Marlins

Eddy Alvarez
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Eddy Alvarez realized his MLB dream, six years after earning a Winter Olympic medal, and during a global pandemic that affected his club more than any other U.S. professional sports franchise.

Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist, is being added to the Miami Marlins roster for Tuesday’s restart of their abbreviated season, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, according to Marlins beat reporters.

The 30-year-old was among a group added after as many as 18 Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus last week, forcing the club to cancel seven games.

Alvarez is believed to be the first U.S. Winter Olympian to become a Major League Baseball player.

He may be the second Olympic medalist in a sport other than baseball to make it to the majors, joining Jim Thorpe. (Michael Jordan tried to do so with the Chicago White Sox, playing Double-A in 1994, but returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995.)

Alvarez, a Miami native, played baseball in high school and at Salt Lake Community College before focusing on short track in 2012 for a 2014 Olympic run.

He came back from missing the 2010 Olympic team and surgeries on both knees, reportedly leaving him immobile and bedpan dependent for four to six weeks, to make the Sochi Winter Games. Eddy the Jet earned a silver medal in the 5000m relay.

Then Alvarez returned to baseball after three years away. He signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox in June 2014. He worked his way through the minors between that franchise and the Marlins system.

Alvarez was a Kannapolis Intimidator, a New Orleans Baby Cake and a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Now, he’s a big leaguer.

“It definitely was a chance, picking up a kid who hasn’t played in three years who is starting at the age of 24,” Alvarez said in 2014. “It’s not your typical story, but I play like a 17-year-old kid. I’m running around everywhere. I’m diving around everywhere. I’m full of life. I definitely see my progression moving at a rapid pace.”

MORE: What Olympic baseball, softball return looks like in 2021

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Katie Ledecky balances glass of chocolate milk on her head while swimming

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky will always remember Aug. 3 as the date she won her first Olympic gold medal, at age 15 in 2012.

Now, she can also associate it with the time she created another kind of buzz on social media.

The five-time Olympic champion posted video of her swimming the length of a pool while balancing a glass of chocolate milk on her head. Barely any, if any, milk spilled into the pool.

Ledecky swam as part of a new got milk? ad campaign.

“Hoooowww nervous were you when you did this?!” fellow Olympic champion and training partner Simone Manuel asked Ledecky on Instagram.

“I have never braced my core so hard,” Ledecky wrote. “It’s a great drill!”

“Try doing it breaststroke,” British Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and world-record holder Adam Peaty wrote.

“Is it wrong of me to think this is even more impressive than a few of your WR’s?!!!” wrote 1992 Olympic champion Summer Sanders.

MORE: The meet where Kathleen Ledecky became Katie Ledecky

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