Tag: Olympics

Ibtihaj Muhammad Will Make History as 1st U.S. Olympian to Compete in a Hijab

Screenshot of Ibtihaj Muhammad, taken from Twitter on February 3, 2016. (photo via Colorlines.comP

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

When she competes at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Ibtihaj Muhammad will make history as the first member of Team USA to compete while wearing a hijab.

Muhammad, who is Black, secured her spot by winning a bronze medal during the fencing World Cup in Athens on January 30. She is now the second-highest-ranking fencer on Team USA’s women’s squad.

In an interview on TeamUSA.org, Muhammad said that she pursued fencing at the professional level in part to help break barriers in the sport:

“After I graduated from college, I saw there was a lack of minorities in the sport,” Muhammad told TeamUSA.org. “I recognized that I had a skill set, so I started to pursue fencing full time. I felt that it was something the squad needed. There were barriers that needed to be broken in women’s saber.”

Muhammad, who failed to quality for the 2012 Olympics due to a torn ligament, will compete in the Rio Olympics in both the individual and team events along with U.S. Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis.

“I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender,” said Muhammad, who was quoted by TeamUsa.org. “I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance.”

Three-peat! Simone Biles Cruises to 3rd Straight World Gymnastics Title; Olympic Champ Gabby Douglas Places 2nd

The Associated Press
Simone Biles of the U.S. performs on the balance beam during the women’s all-around final competition at the World Artistic Gymnastics championships at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) 

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Simone Biles is human. The proof came halfway through her beam routine at the world championships Thursday night, when a front flip ended with Biles reaching forward and squeezing the piece of wood as hard as she could with both hands.

Twenty minutes later, Biles finished a tumbling run with her right foot so far out of bounds it might as well have landed in Edinburgh, an hour to the east.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m not supposed to be on this,'” Biles said, laughing.

Not that it mattered. While Biles might indeed be human, she’s not beatable. Not now, and unless her peers do some serious cramming over the nine months, not at next summer’s Olympics, either.

Despite the flubs, the meet ended the way it always does when Biles is in the field, with the 18-year-old supernova standing on top of the podium with a gold medal around her neck kind of dumbstruck at how this keeps happening. Her third straight world title came by the biggest margin yet, 1.083 points over teammate, buddy and reigning Olympic champion Gabby Douglas and bronze medalist Larisa Iordache of Romania.

“If I could crawl out of my skin and see it, it would be really amazing,” she said.

Kind of.

Biles’ eight world championship gold medals are a record for an American, and she’ll have a chance to add to that total in event finals over the weekend. Whoever is behind Biles in customs when she returns to the U.S. next week might want to Netflix and chill.

“I just keep blowing my own mind because yes there are goals that I have and then I dream of it and then I make it a reality,” Biles said. “I’m just shocked by myself.”

It’s just that the result is no longer shocking. Biles is in the midst of a run unprecedented in this era of women’s gymnastics, when peaks are typically measured in months and not years. Yet she is still improving, still pushing the boundaries.

Her performances have become events during an unbeaten streak at more than two years and counting, one that doesn’t appear in danger of ending anytime soon. She combines groundbreaking tumbling — there’s even a move named after her on the floor exercise — with nearly flawless execution.

Yet while Biles will be the overwhelming favorite in Rio next August, her toughest competition will likely from her own ridiculously loaded team. Douglas became the first reigning Olympic gold medalist to reach the podium at worlds since the Soviet Union’s Yelena Davydova in 1981.

The 19-year-old showed flashes of the brilliance that made her a star in London three years ago, her uneven bars routine done with the kind of precision and grace that originally caught national team coordinator Martha Karolyi’s eye.

Douglas is well aware of the distance between Biles and the rest of the field. Though Douglas calls Biles “amazing,” she’s hardly ready to cede that gold in Rio is out of reach. Attempting to become the first Olympic champ in nearly 50 years to repeat, Douglas has a plan in place to make the upgrades necessary to catch Biles.

“I’m excited for the road ahead,” Douglas said. “I’ve got bigger skills coming along.”

Douglas and everyone else will need them if they want to end an undefeated run that’s now at 10 straight meets, even if this one seemed to come a little harder than most.

There was that weird stumble on beam — the event she’s the most inconsistent on — that ended with what coach Aimee Boorman called the “save of the century” and the misstep on floor, when her seemingly jet-pack powered tumbling run left her standing on the red out of bounds carpet wondering how she got there.

“I didn’t even know I could land on the red,” Biles said.

article by Will Graves, AP via usnews.com

Long-Distance Runner Mo Farah Wins World 5,000-Meter Title to Claim Historic Double-Double

Mo Farah
Mo Farah, right, holds off his rivals to win the 5,000m world title in Moscow. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
This was Mo Farah‘s immortal race: the victory he called “the sweetest by far”, the triumph that thrust him deeper into the realm of athletics‘ gods. Under cooling Moscow skies Farah fended off a sustained counterattack from Hagos Gebrhiwet and Isiah Kiplangat Koech to win his fifth global title, two more than any British athlete in history. He also became only the second man, after Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, to achieve the double-double of 5,000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics and the following world championships. This is the company Farah now keeps.

But it was harder than last year: Farah admitted so himself. The teeth had to be gritted and clamped with 100m to go as greyhounds from Kenya and Ethiopia sniffed out and scampered after their prey. His battle roar was also delayed until moments before the line, when his lungs demanded release and he finally accepted that victory was safe. Then came the familiar gestures: eyes kindled and hands open in astonished glee before his body flopped on the track, tension escaping like air from a popped balloon after a job well done.

“I never thought in my career I would achieve something like this,” said Farah, who won 5,000m gold in 13min 26.98sec, a step ahead of Gebrhiwet and Koech who took silver and bronze in the same time of 13:27.26sec. “This was very tough – it was all left to the last two laps and I had a lot of pressure. It was hard this year, harder than last year.”

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Obama: Russia Has “Big Stake in Making Sure” Olympics Work for LGBT Community

1375839549000-AFP-521918111-1308062140_4_3In an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Barack Obama on Tuesday night said that he expected Russia to welcome gay and lesbian athletes to the 2014 Sochi Olympics because the country has “a big stake in making sure the Olympics work.”  The conversation stemmed from a question Leno asked about the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia, which Leno characterized as a place where “homosexuality is against the law.”

A top Russian government official recently stated that, even during the Olympics, the country would enforce a new law that prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors.” The law, signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in June, also bans public events that promote gay rights and public displays of affection by same-sex couples.

The International Olympic Committee has stated publicly that athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia will not be affected by the anti-gay legislation.  “I mean, this seems like Germany,” Leno said. “Let’s round up the Jews, let’s round up the gays, let’s round up the blacks. I mean, it starts with that. You round up people who you don’t — I mean, why is not more of the world outraged at this?”

President Obama responded that he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

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Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt Win IAAF Athlete of the Year Awards

Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt

Olympic gold medallists Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix have won the male and female athlete of the year awards.  Both athletes were honored by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) at a ceremony in Barcelona on Saturday.  Jamaican Bolt, who retained his 100m and 200m titles in the London Olympics, is the first man to win the award four times  Felix won three gold medals and claimed the award ahead of Britain’s Jessica Ennis, who was on the shortlist.

Serena and Venus Williams Inspire Local Kids in Nigeria

U.S. Tennis player Serena Williams, right, in action as she plays tennis with a school child, during a clinic session in Lagos, Nigeria. Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams say they eagerly await playing in the 2016 Olympics after their third doubles gold this year. The two sisters made the comments Wednesday in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, during their first visit to the country. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)U.S. Tennis player Serena Williams, right, in action as she plays tennis with a school child, during a clinic session in Lagos, Nigeria. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — On their first visit to Nigeria, Serena and Venus Williams want to inspire local kids to set their goals high. “We were really able to break the mold and win a lot of Grand Slams and a lot of tournaments and not only that, but kind of change the face of tennis,” Serena said Wednesday before an exhibition match against her sister in Lagos on Friday.

Serena Williams Beats Sharapova to Win WTA Championship

ISTANBUL — After smacking her 40th and final winner of the match on a forehand service return on championship point, Serena Williams clenched her left fist, then punched the air with her right. She then skipped to the net as winner of the WTA Championships for the third time, having defeated Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3, in the final Sunday. After the two shook hands, Williams turned and waved to the crowd on all sides of the sold-out Sinan Erdem Arena, a crowd that brought a level of noise and enthusiasm to the championships far exceeding previous events.

“Now that I can be honest, I really wanted to win and win this title and put a little pressure on myself,” Williams said in her postmatch news conference. “Yeah, I wanted it so bad, but I didn’t want to say it. I’m really excited that I was able to win it.”

Williams added: “I was like a heavy favorite going in to win this title, so for me it was really important. I mean, for my own sanity, so to say. I really wanted it, even though I didn’t need it. Like I don’t think I needed to do anything else this year — or any other year — but I really wanted to end on a good note.”

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Olympic Hurdler Lolo Jones Joins US Bobsled Team

Lolo Jones waiting for her run at the U.S. women's bobsled push championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. Jones says she's still planning to compete in hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Only now, a trip to the 2014 Sochi Games may come first. Jones was one of 24 athletes selected to the U.S. bobsled team Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Lynch, File)

Lolo Jones waiting for her run at the U.S. women’s bobsled push championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. Jones says she’s still planning to compete in hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Only now, a trip to the 2014 Sochi Games may come first. Jones was one of 24 athletes selected to the U.S. bobsled team Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Lynch, File)

Gabby Douglas Wins Sportswoman of Year Award

Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas attends the 33rd Annual Salute To Women In Sports Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas attends the 33rd Annual Salute To Women In Sports Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas has won Sportswoman of the Year honors from the Women’s Sports Foundation.  The gymnast won the award Wednesday night, beating out Lindsey Vonn, London Olympians Serena Williams, Missy Franklin, Allyson Felix, and Paralympians Jessica Long and Tatyana McFadden. Douglas is the third gymnast to win the award, joining fellow Olympic gold medalists Mary Lou Retton (1984) and Nastia Liukin (2008). Liukin presented Douglas with the award, given to an individual athlete who exhibits exceptional performances. Douglas won the all-around gold at the London Olympics, the fourth American — and first African-American — to win gymnastics’ biggest prize. She also helped the U.S. women to the team title, their first since 1996 and second overall.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press via thegrio.com

Obamas Salute Olympians, Paralympians

President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House September 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House September 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama gathered Team USA at the White House on Friday to hail the Olympians and Paralympians as conquering heroes.  “We could not be prouder of you. You gave us a summer that we will never forget,” he told more than 400 athletes crowding bleachers on the South Lawn.  Obama was joined by his wife Michelle, who was in London for the opening of the 2012 Summer Games and led the official U.S. delegation, and Vice President Joe Biden.

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The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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