Simone Manuel surprises students with free laptops, internet

Comcast
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Simone Manuel knows just how important access was on her path to becoming an Olympic champion swimmer. Now, she’s helping create opportunities for the next generation.

Manuel, the first Black female swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S., partnered with Comcast to surprise students with 1,000 free laptops and free WiFi for three years at recreational facilities in Oakland, California, on Thursday.

A total of $100,000 was also contributed to the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation through the company’s Internet Essentials program.

“An awesome program that really is about providing the internet to people who normally don’t have access to it,” Manuel, who spoke virtually with Oakland students, said on “Brother from Another” on Peacock on Thursday. “And we all know that access provides great opportunities to people.”

When Manuel was 12 years old, she wrestled with whether swimming was the sport for her. She saw a lack of representation and faced racism. One day after practice, she asked her mom why there weren’t many swimmers who looked like her.

“It was really important for us to sit down and really research the history of Black people in swimming,” Manuel said. “That day really showed me that Black people can swim. We just didn’t have access to do so. I was fortunate to have the access to swim, and I was going to pursue my dreams and work to hopefully change that for children in the sport of swimming.”

Manuel noted that a primary reason for a high drowning rate in minority communities is a lack of access. 

“I think the same applies to education,” she said, noting bringing awareness to close the digital divide. “Providing access to people always allows them to really see that they can do something. They can achieve something. It gives them the opportunity to see these doors open for them.”

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia
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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”