John Carlos proud of athletes boycotting sports over racial injustice

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John Carlos, the 1968 Olympic 200m bronze medalist who, along with gold medalist Tommie Smith, was kicked out of the Games for raising a black-gloved first on the podium, admires the athletes who boycotted competition Wednesday and Thursday over racial injustice.

“I respect the hell out of them,” Carlos, 75, said, according to Time. “Because you have to squeeze the toothpaste tube to get people to respond. And their boycotting lets the powers that be, whether it’s the NBA or any professional organization or corporate entity, know that they need to raise their voices. They need to get serious about the situation.”

Athletes, who have spoken out about racism for months, took protests to a different level Wednesday, three days after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

It began with the Milwaukee Bucks, who chose in the afternoon not to play a playoff game scheduled against the Orlando Magic. The other two NBA games were later postponed. Then all three scheduled WNBA games were postponed.

Three MLB games were not played. Other MLB games had finished, were in progress or were just about to start as the other announcements were made. Some individual baseball players sat out games that were held.

Five of the six scheduled MLS games were postponed.

Late Wednesday night, tennis star Naomi Osaka announced she withdrew from a Thursday semifinal of a tournament that has now been paused.

“I would hope that the thing snowballs,” Carlos said, according to USA Today.

Before the Mexico City Olympics, a boycott by Black athletes over human rights was discussed. Smith reportedly committed to it early on, but a large-scale boycott did not come to fruition.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar declined to try out for the 1968 Olympic basketball team, in between his junior and senior years at UCLA, citing multiple reasons for not feeling very patriotic.

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I did go and we won, I’d be bringing honor to the country that was denying our rights,” he wrote in his 2017 book, “Coach Wooden and Me.”

Some U.S. Olympians who did compete in Mexico City did protest, and it wasn’t limited to Smith and Carlos. Wyomia Tyus, who won the 100m and 4x100m, substituted white, team-issued shorts for black ones. Ralph Boston accepted his long jump bronze medal while in bare feet.

Smith and Carlos marched to their podium with head-to-toe statements.

Smith wore a scarf for Black pride. Carlos’ black shirt, covering his USA uniform, was “to illustrate my shame of America.” The beads around Carlos’ neck: “It was about love first of all. But then foremost it was about the lynchings that had taken place throughout the South for so many years,” he said.

“We wanted to put the gloves on to let ’em know that, yes, we’re here representing America. We’re here representing the Olympics,” Carlos said in 2018. “But we’re here more folks representing Black people and Black pride.”

Smith and Carlos were ordered to leave the Olympic Village after the protest. They received death threats.

“They ain’t trying to tear the arena down,” Carlos said of today’s athletes, according to USA Today. “They ain’t trying to destroy America. All they’re doing is crying out by saying, ‘Enough is enough. And if you won’t do something, we will.'”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MORE: John Carlos, U.S. athletes want new policy for Olympic protests

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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