On paper, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is entirely average for athletes competing in the women's 10-meter air rifle event at the 2012 London Olympics. There's just one difference: when she steps up to the line to shoot, she will be eight months pregnant.
As the Comcast/NBC presentation neared its conclusion Tuesday morning at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Bob Costas stepped to the front of the room to deliver the emotional highlight of the allocution.
If U.S. cross-country skiers didn't ply their trade in a vacuum, Kikkan Randall would be adorning magazine covers and selling shoes, watches and electronics. The Olympian from Alaska won her second straight sprint World Cup race last weekend, holding off two Norwegians on their home snow in Drammen, Norway. That's like beating the old Celtics on the parquet. One of the skiers Randall outsprinted was Marit Bjoergen, who won five medals, including three golds, at the Vancouver Olympics and now has seven for her career.
Skiers understand the capricious nature of fame in a sport that is largely hidden from public view for years at a time. It's all about timing. (And back stories, too, but that's another matter. And sometimes it's about timing and back stories together). You can win all the races you like, on any mountainside in the world, but unless you win at the Olympics, you are anonymous. Ted Ligety knows all about this.
The head of the Vancouver Olympics organizing committee warned that an athlete could get "badly injured or worse" almost a full year before Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during a practice run at the 2010 Winter Games.
Here are some of the most outstanding female athletes of the year in Olympic sports, listed in alphabetical order with a nod to the Korean and Chinese whose family names appear first. Next week, we'll look at some of the top males.
After the World Championships in Rome last summer when he won a bronze medal in the 10-kilometer open water swim event, Fran Crippen talked glowingly about how the open-water event essentially revived his career.
(TORONTO) -- I'm here at the World Hockey Summit trying to assimilate three days of information and ideas that span the spectrum of considerations. This forum included everything from what is best for the youngest of youth players to all the political and economic issues connected with NHL players participating in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Don't count Apolo Ohno out of the 2014 Olympics just yet. The man with eight Olympics medals, the most of any U.S. Winter Olympian in history, hasn't ruled out a return to the ranks of competitive short track speedskating. "I've been so busy since Vancouver and I haven't been on the ice since," Ohno said Monday in New York. "Tuesday was my first day on the ice. I'm taking a long break from the sport. I'm looking forward to seeing the London Games, the Sochi Games in some capacity, but I haven't made a decision about that yet ... I think it would take me a minimum of two years to be ready for another Olympics. This is a true break I've never had before. I've had urges. I wanted to go to Utah and just show up for training."
Usain Bolt may bolt from another event, depending on the source you choose to believe. Although Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, says the sprinter will not run in the Jamaican team trials for the Commonwealth Games next week, Mills now says the quadrennial competition, set to open in Delhi on Oct. 3, was never actually on his schedule in the first place. That comes as news to organizers, who have been promoting Bolt's appearance since last year.
Every time I hear another dismal report about how Greece is going to drag the whole world into an economic abyss, I ask out loud: Does anybody remember that only six years ago Athens proudly hosted the Summer Olympics?
•Fresh off an impressive silver-medal at the Vancouver Olympics, general manager Brian Burke will be back to lead another U.S. hockey team on international ice, this time at next month's world championships in Germany. David Poile, Burke's assistant in Vancouver, will join him in the same capacity, and Islander head coach Scott Gordon, one of Ron Wilson's assistant coaches at the Olympics, will serve as head coach. The U.S. will open its tournament against host Germany on May 7 and will finish off opening-round play against Denmark and Finland. The final is scheduled for May 23 in Cologne.
VANCOUVER -- The funny thing was, Sidney Crosby really hadn't done much all game. No points. Only two shots on goal. A missed breakaway late in the third period when he pushed the puck too far ahead and left himself no room to maneuver against American goalie Ryan Miller. The 22-year-old Crosby hadn't scored a point in more than three games and had been a non-factor on the ice.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There's a reason we come, despite the nonsense. There's a reason we come to the Olympics still, every two years now, despite the fact that sometimes you get William Shatner or the odd, massive inflatable moose. What with all the overdone stagecraft and security hassles, the butt-covering parsing of words or the smugness of IOC officials who speak of an "Olympic movement" that never moves quite far enough when it comes to abuses committed under those oh-so-hallowed rings, it's easy to forget.
VANCOUVER, British COlumbia -- It isn't a role the United States is accustomed to playing, least of all at an Olympics. But the Americans' almost certain status as the top medal dog at the Vancouver Games is the result of its recurrent role here as successful underdog.
On the 12-step road to recovery, they say the first task is to face and acknowledge reality. By that standard, Monday was a gilded day for Canada -- and I'm not talking primarily about the ice-dancing gold medal won by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- He walked up and out of the darkened tunnel at 6:38 p.m., Vancouver time, his country's flag drooping on a staff in his hands. Iason Abramashvili looked pale; his eyes were wide. He looked shattered. The canned music still blared and pounded, the native dancers hopping in the center of the stadium floor still hopped, but now the mood inside BC Place shifted. Now the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, for just a moment, took on the feel of a funeral.
Canada's Olympic home losing streak began July 18, 1976, a day after the opening ceremonies in Montreal, trudged depressingly through Calgary 1988 and now stands at 0-for-244 as an expectant nation awaits the lighting of the cauldron for the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
She's up. She's down. She's up again. The roller coaster ride that is Lindsey Vonn's season rose to its apex again over the weekend, when the defending overall World Cup champion swept three speed races in Haus im Enstal, Austria. Vonn won downhills on Friday and Saturday and captured a Super-G race on Sunday, easing fears that a damaged left arm she'd hurt in a fall last month would impair her Olympic ambitions. The victories boosted her lead in this season's World Cup standings to a robust 192 points ahead of Germany's Maria Riesch.
Steve Yzerman will be appointed executive director of Canada's hockey team for the 2010 Vancouver Games. The Detroit Red Wings executive replaces Wayne Gretzky, who held the job for the past two Olympics.
Willard Mitt Romney looks great in a suit. Which is good for him, because all day "Matinee Mitt" has been wearing a crisp, gray number. Speeches, grip-and-grin events, a veterans hall - no venue-appropriate costume changes, just pure Brooks Brothers. Even now, when it's 85 degrees and he's surrounded by people in shorts, the man won't so much as loosen his tie.