Dick Hoyt, Boston Marathon icon, dies at 80

Dick Hoyt Boston Marathon
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BOSTON (AP) — Dick Hoyt, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers and disabled athletes by pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons and hundreds of other races, has died, a member of the family said Wednesday.

He was 80.

Dick passed away quietly in his sleep at his Holland, Massachusetts, home on Wednesday morning, Russ Hoyt, another of his son’s, told The Associated Press.

“He had an ongoing heart condition that he had been struggling with for years and it just got the better of him,” Russ Hoyt said.

Russ and his other brother, Rob, broke the news to Rick.

“He’s sad, as we all are, but he’s OK,” Russ said. “You could see it in him, it was like someone hit him.”

Dick Hoyt first pushed his son, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, in the Boston Marathon in 1980. Dick and Rick, in a specialized wheelchair, completed 32 Boston Marathons together, until Dick, citing health issues, retired in 2014. He had planned on retiring after the 2013 race, but the father and son never finished because of that year’s finish line bombing, so they came back one more time.

The Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, called Hoyt a legend.

“The B.A.A. is tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt,” the organization said in a statement. “Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots Day for more than three decades. He was not only a fan favorite who inspired thousands, but also a loyal friend and father who took pride in spending quality time with his son Rick while running from Hopkinton to Boston.”

Dick served as Grand Marshal of the 2015 race in recognition of his accomplishments.

And even though his father stopped, Rick did not. Bryan Lyons, a dentist, took over pushing Rick starting in 2015 until his unexpected death last June at age 50.

The 1980 Boston Marathon was not the Hoyts’ first road race.

In 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed. They finished next to last, but that was just the start.

“Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not disabled,” Rick told his father after that first race, according to the website of Team Hoyt, the charity the family established to help disabled athletes.

They participated in more than 1,000 races, including duathlons and triathlons and in 1992 even completed a run and bike across the U.S., covering 3,735 miles (6,010 kilometers) in 45 days, according to the website.

In 2013, a statue of father and son was erected in front of a school in Hopkinton, near the Boston Marathon’s starting line.

“I know it’s a cliche, but I want people to know that I thought my father was a hero, not just because he pushed Rick in the marathon, but because he was a great father to all of us you could talk to about anything,” he said. “He inspired people to look at all their children as equals no matter their disability.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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