Lee Evans, 1968 Olympic 400m champion who protested racism, dies at 74

0 Comments

Lee Evans, the 1968 Olympic 400m champion and human rights activist, has died at age 74, according to USA Track and Field.

Evans suffered a stroke last week in Nigeria and was unconscious in a hospital there as of Sunday, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Evans was 21 when he won the 400m at the Mexico City Games in 43.86 seconds, the first time somebody broke 44 in the event.

“I was so tired, I knew I did something I’ve never done before,” Evans told NBC Sports for the film “1968” on those Olympics. “I wasn’t sure I won. Nobody told me I won, so they said, ‘Lee, you son of a gun.’ I said, ‘Who won? Who won?'”

He later anchored the U.S. 4x400m to gold in a world record. Both records stood for two decades.

Evans ran collegiately for San Jose State — “Speed City” — with Tommie Smith and John Carlos, 1968 Olympic teammates who took gold and bronze, respectively, in the 200m in Mexico City.

Evans was a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights and one of the athletes to fight for racial justice before and during those Games.

He wanted to withdraw from the 400m final after Smith and Carlos were kicked out of the Olympics after raising black-gloved fists on the medal stand. But Smith and Carlos convinced Evans to run, according to Olympedia.org.

Evans said an official warned the U.S. 400m runners before the final not do anything similar to Smith and Carlos. The official was worried the U.S. team would get kicked out of the Games.

Evans then led a U.S. medals sweep of the 400m with Larry James and Ron Freeman. All three wore black berets in support of the Black Panther Party for the victory ceremony. They removed them for the anthem, a decision Evans said was made before the Olympics given they still had the 4x400m relay to run.

“After what Tommie and John did, there was a lot of commotion,” Evans said in 2017. “We had meetings, and yelling, but it turns out, we stuck to our guns.”

Evans later coached and directed track and field programs for decades internationally.

Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
Getty
0 Comments

Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

0 Comments

Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!