Countdown to Rio: Storylines to watch

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
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Usain BoltPaul Gilham/Getty ImagesThe 2016 Summer Olympics will likely be Usain Bolt's last.

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are two years out from Tuesday. Here are some early storylines to keep on the radar:

Michael Phelps: Will he or won’t he?

After retiring from swimming following the 2012 London Games, the most decorated Olympian of all-time is back in the pool. But will the 29-year-old Phelps add to his 22-medal total? Since returning to competitive races, he has been careful to say what his Olympic intentions are, so the Phelps Watch continues. In the meantime, he will compete in four events at this week’s U.S. Championships.

Brazil as host

The success of the World Cup boosted some morale within the International Olympic Committee that Rio de Janeiro could host a large sporting event like the Summer Games. A special task force was assembled to keep an eye on the project and address concerns on the preparations. On Monday, a Brazilian newspaper estimated that while only 25 percent of construction is competed, workers remain on schedule.

[+] EnlargeAlan Fonteles Oliveira
Phillippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty ImagesAlan Oliveira won 200-meter gold at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Usain Bolt’s treble-treble

The Jamaican world-record holder looks to become the first runner to win three gold medals in three consecutive Olympics. Bolt is carefully mapping out his road to Rio, as a foot injury has sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. He won three gold medals at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow and will use 2015’s edition in Beijing as a lead-up to his final Summer Games. Bolt has also said he aims to better his world record in the 200 meters before retiring.

Kerri Walsh Jennings back for more

After three consecutive beach volleyball gold medals with Misty May-Treanor by her side, Kerri Walsh Jennings looks to make her fifth U.S. Olympic team. She is now partnered with April Ross and has moved to the right side of the sand in the transition. Ross and playing partner Jennifer Kessy lost to May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings in the all-American final at the London Games.

Winning streaks for women

Walsh Jennings isn’t the only woman looking to continue her Olympic winning streak in Rio. In London, Kim Rhode became the first American athlete to win five medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympics after locking up another gold in women’s skeet. The U.S. women’s basketball team also will vie for a sixth consecutive gold medal and ninth overall. After the U.S. rowing team won its second gold in the women’s event, it won team titles at the 2013 World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea.

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New Team USA uniforms: Yay or nay?

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
2:43
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Heads up, hoops fans: Nike has yet another new Team USA uniform for you to feast your eyes on!

On Friday, the company officially unveiled the U.S. men's national basketball team's gear for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup, which begins Aug. 30 in Spain. Check 'em out:

Kevin DurantNikeKevin Durant, you are the real MVP!


The home and away looks:

USA UniformsNike
USA UniformsNike


So, what do you think of the uniforms? Cast your vote or write a comment below:

SportsNation

Do you like the new Team USA basketball uniforms?

  •  
    82%
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    18%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,886)



Keflezighi returns to New York Marathon

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
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Meb KeflezighiAP Photo/Charles KrupaMeb Keflezighi will attempt to get the rare Boston/NYC double victory this year.
Reigning Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi will run the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 as an ambassador for the Team for Kids Charity Program, the New York Road Runners announced on Thursday. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist is the first elite runner announced by NYRR for the 2014 edition of the race.

Keflezighi in April became the first American man since 1983 to win Boston, and his 2009 victory in the NYC Marathon was the first for an American man there since 1982.

"I am excited to be running the TCS New York City Marathon for the ninth time. This is a very special race and city for me,” Keflezighi said. "Additionally, I am honored to be a Team for Kids Ambassador and raise funds for the MEB Foundation."

The NYRR also announced that tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, formerly the WTA's No. 1-ranked player, will be running in New York.

"I can’t wait to trade my tennis racquet for a pair of running shoes and take part in the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon as a New York Road Runners Team for Kids Ambassador," said Wozniacki.

As for Keflezighi, his return to New York offers up some interesting notes.

Meb by the numbers

6 – Only five men have doubled as the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon champion in the same year. Bill Rodgers accomplished the feat twice, in 1978 and 1979. Alberto Salazar was the last American to do so, in 1982. Kenyans Joseph Chebet (1999), Rodgers Rop (2002) and Geoffrey Mutai (2011) are the most recent.

6 – Keflezighi has finished in the top 10 of the New York City Marathon six times in his career.

9 – 2014 will mark the ninth time that Keflezighi has raced 26.2 miles through the streets of New York.

14 – Since its inaugural race in 1970, there have only been 14 American winners of the New York City Marathon. There has been only one since Alberto Salazar’s third consecutive crown from 1980 to 1982: Keflezighi in 2009.

23 – Just four years removed from his victory, Keflezighi placed 23rd in last year’s NYC marathon. Calf cramping slowed him down to the point where he walked for a few minutes, yet he was determined to cross the finish line.

39 – Keflezighi turned 39 years old on May 5. He was the oldest winner of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012, when he was 36. Geoffrey Mutai was 30 and 32 when he won the NYC Marathon in 2011 and 2013.

What Blake Griffin's absence means for Team USA

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
3:30
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Brian Windhorst explains why Blake Griffin's absence from Team USA's roster for the FIBA World Cup is both a blessing and a curse:

Alan Webb enjoying transition to triathlon

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
12:49
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Alan WebbAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesAfter much track success on the national level, Alan Webb is now focused on triathlons.
Five months into his triathlon career Alan Webb is progressing quickly and, perhaps more important, feeling mentally recharged, according to an update on the U.S. Olympic Committee's site.

Webb, who holds the American record in the mile, has done three individual triathlons since running his last elite track race on February 15 at the Millrose Games. In his most recent, held last July 26 in Magog, Quebec, Webb placed second and was 2 seconds behind 2012 Canadian Olympic triathlete Kyle Jones.

The sprint-distance triathlon was comprised of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. Not surprisingly, Webb had the fastest run time of the day at 14:20, which was four seconds faster than Jones. In fact, Webb was also four seconds faster than Jones on the bike and only one second slower on the swim.

Perhaps showing his inexperience in the sport, Webb lost out in the two transitions where he was four and five seconds slower than Jones.

"One of the exciting things about Alan is probably what we don’t know," Webb's coach, Jonathan Hall, told the USOC. "He’s already competing at a high level, and there’s a huge margin for the unknown and improvement."

After a stellar high school career -- including setting the U.S. prep mile record of 3:53.43 in 2001 -- Webb had wildly fluctuating results during the rest of his time as an elite runner. Highs included winning the 2004 Olympic Trials 1500-meter final and setting the American mile record of 3:46.91 in 2007. He is also one of two men in history to run under 1:44 for 800 meters and 27:40 for 10,000 meters.

But Webb was erratic and often injured as a pro. In the last part of his career, he had four coaches within a span of a few years. He failed to advance from his 5000-meter qualifying heat at the 2012 Olympic Trials. In recent years he often ran slower than when he was in high school, and the frustration was palpable.

At Hall's urging, Webb watched a sprint triathlon last fall and decided it was time for a change.

"I wanted to see growth in myself again," Webb told the USOC. "I finally got to the point where I was comfortable saying that I had given everything I had as a professional track athlete."

Webb told the USOC that he's taking his progression in his new sport as it comes, but said about being on the 2016 Olympic team that "I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was my goal."