LONDON - In a surprise selection, track and field athlete Bryshon Nellum was named to lead the US team into Sunday's Closing Ceremonies as flag bearer, the US Olympic Committee announced Friday night. Nellum was chosen by a vote of team members.
Nellum, a 400-meter runner, was told by doctors in 2008 that he would never run again at a world-class level. Through perseverance and dedication, Nellum returned to training full-time in 2012 and finished third in the 400 at the US Olympic trials in a personal-best 44.80 seconds to earn a London berth.
"I'm humbled by this incredible privilege," said Nellum. "Four years ago I wasn't sure I'd ever run again, and now I'm leading Team USA into the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games. I'm so grateful for the incredible support of my friends and family and I'll never forget these Games."
"I'd like to congratulate Bryshon on this tremendous honor," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "His courage embodies the Olympic spirit and he'll represent our team well on Sunday night."
LONDON -- NBC's decision to show tape-delayed events in prime time has generated a steady whirlwind of criticism on the social-network site Twitter.
But for now, one particularly harsh critic will no longer be allowed to use the outlet to do so.
Twitter suspended the account of journalist Guy Adams after he sent out the NBC e-mail address of NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel and encouraged his followers to send him their complaints.
Adams, a Los Angeles-based editor for "The Independent,'' wrote about his suspension Monday night, explaining that during his frustration with NBC's tape-delayed coverage of Friday's Opening Ceremonies, he tweeted: “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think!”
After he discovered his account had been suspended Sunday morning, he sent a request to Twitter asking why. The response, which Adams said he believed was an automatically generated reply, said:
Your twitter account has been suspended for posting an individual's private information such as private email address.
It included an image of his Tweet about Zenkel.
Posting private information such as an e-mail address is a violation of Twitter rules. But as Adams noted, Zenkel's e-mail address is a corporate one easily found on Google.
The suspension generated speculation that NBC has been involved in Twitter's decision since they are partners during the Olympic Games. There is no indication that is the case.
Update: Adams posts an update writing that NBC blames Twitter for the complaint that led to Adams's account suspension:
This evening, an ominous development: according to an NBC spokesman called Christopher McCloskey, it was the micro-blogging site [Twitter]– and not NBC – that was responsible for initiating the complaint that lead to my suspension in the first place.
LONDON -- Elizabeth Beisel won a silver medal in the women's 400 individual medley Saturday night at the Aquatic Center at the London Olympics, finishing behind China's Ye Shiwen, who set a world record.
"I'm totally satisfied," said Beisel, who finished fourth in the event four years ago and was aiming to become the first US woman since Janet Evans in 1988 to win the event.
"A gold would be a little bit cooler but I can't complain. I'm just really excited right now."
The Saunderstown, Rhode Island native, the reigning world champion and considered by many the favorite, finished in a time of 4 minutes 31.27 seconds, nearly three seconds behind Ye's record time of 4:28.43.
She topped the standard of 4:29.45 set by Australia's Stephanie Rice four years ago in Beijing.
China's Li Xuanxu won the bronze (4:32.91).
Beisel, who had the fastest time in the morning prelims, started slowly and was in eighth place after the first leg, the butterfly. But she moved up to second during the backstroke, and led by .81 seconds after the breaststroke, the third leg of the race.
But Ye caught and passed her during the final leg, the freestyle. The 16-year-old had a perfectly reasonable explanation afterward.
"In the last 100 meters, I thought I was behind so I tried as hard as I could to catch up," she said.
* * *
Natalie Coughlin won her 12th career medal when the US women won the bronze medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay, but she did not swim in the race.
Coughlin, who tied fellow swimmers Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for the most medals by a female US Olympian, was left off the final four after swimming during the preliminary heats earlier in the day.
Australia won the gold, while The Netherlands claimed the silver.
LONDON -- Sitting alone except for his coach in front of dozens of reporters at the Main Press Centre Thursday, Michael Phelps found the one person among the horde who could almost identify with him.
The particular reporter, rather familiar to viewers of recent Winter Olympics and currently moonlighting for NBC during the Summer Games, was identified by the public relations person selecting questioners at the press conference as "the man in the blue shirt.''
Phelps laughed. "His name's Apolo,'' he deadpanned.
Yes, that one. Apolo Anton Ohno, an eight-time medalist in short-track speed-skating, asked Phelps a question about keeping things simple, one Olympic legend to another. But Ohno's presence also stood as a reminder of just how dominating Phelps has been, not just in his particular sport, but in Olympic lore.
He has 16 medals -- twice as many as Ohno, whose career total Phelps matched in gold during his record-setting performance in Beijing. In London, it's practically a formality that his collection will grow to a record number.
Phelps, 27, has a record 14 golds among his 16 medals, and should surpass the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina sometime in the middle of next week if all goes according to plan. He is competing in seven events this time around, starting with the 400 individual medley Saturday when the swimming competition begins.
"This is the last competitive meet I'm going to have in my career," Phelps said. "It's big. It's something I've never experienced. I'm going to have a lot of firsts and a lot of lasts this week."
Phelps casually but firmly insists that medal counts and records aren't driving him, using the analogy that whatever he wins in London are "the toppings on the sundae."
"You guys are the ones who keep bringing medal counts up,'' he said. "I've never once in my career said anything about medal counts. I'm here to swim as fast as I can, and if I do that, it's all that matters. I've said this before and I'll say it again. The only person I can control is myself.''
Relaxed and at times reflective, he said he's trying to enjoy the camaraderie of what he has repeatedly said will be his final Olympics, though often he finds himself killing time by watching movies and episodes of "The Wire" in the common room.
He's savoring his surroundings and the experience, something that wasn't always possible because of the pressure that accompanied his bid for eight golds in Beijing.
"I think it's sort of hard to compare myself now to then,'' Phelps said. "The goals are different. In Beijing, we were trying to conquer anything and everything. We're a lot more relaxed. We're having fun."
He joked Wednesday about walking out of the cafeteria in the village, only to spot three Russian female athletes walking his way -- all taller than his 6-foot-4-inch frame.
"Geez, I thought I was tall," he said. "But that's the cool thing about coming here and being in the village and getting to experience all of that. I know I have a very full schedule this week, but [coach] Bob [Bowman] and I have prepared ourselves to do the best we can."
Phelps reiterated he had no issue with teammate Tyler Clary telling the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise recently that Phelps doesn't work as hard as less-gifted swimmers and that it's "a shame.''
"Tyler said everything was taken out of context, he has apologized,'' Phelps said. "I said he doesn't need to say anything. He sat in my room for 10 minutes talking about it. He did not need to do that. Whatever you say, you say. I spent a year at school [Michigan] with Tyler. We have known each other for a long time. In Team USA we have always come into the competition as one and left as one."
Phelps joked that perhaps he takes a different approach to training than teammate, friend and rival Ryan Lochte -- "Ryan might be throwing a tire. I don't see myself throwing a tire,'' he said -- but it's apparent the respect Phelps receives from his Team USA teammates, who followed him as a group on the podium.
"When he's with us, he's just ... normal. He's like all of us,'' Lochte said. "We don't see him as anything different. He definitely does get more exposure after what he did in 2004 and 2008. He deserves it.''
LONDON -- Mariel Zagunis may lack the single-name fame of LeBron, Serena, and some of her United States Olympic team counterparts, but judging by her latest honor, the two-time gold-medal winning fencer is at least as respected.
By a vote of her teammates, Zagunis was selected late Wednesday as the flag-bearer to lead the 529-member US delegation in Friday's Opening Ceremonies.
"It means a lot to be picked by my fellow athletes,'' said Zagunis, who lives in Beaverton, Ore. "It's not just some random committee that's thinking somebody's deserving. The athletes are actually picking who they want to be at the Opening Ceremony. I can't believe I'm going to be the one who has that opportunity."
Zagunis, whose gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games was the first for a US fencer in 100 years, finished atop the podium again in Beijing four years ago. She is the first fencer to be the US flag-bearer since Janice Lee Romary did the honors in 1968.
"To be that representative for all of Team USA means so much to me. It's a huge, huge honor and it also goes along with so much that has gone on this year,'' Zagunis said.
Zagunis said the honor had additional meaning to her because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. She noted that there are more women than men on the US team for the first time.
"I am where I am today because of the women who paved the way," Zagunis said. "They were the ones who got our rights and I was born in the right generation to have these opportunities to be there and available. I just think you have to fight in training and to be the best in your sport, but there was no fighting to have that opportunity."
UPDATE, 3:16 p.m.: Multiple reports are now out that Nodar Kumaritashvili has died from injuries sustained in the crash. The Associated Press, Toronto Sun and CBC in Canada are all reporting that the luge racer has passed away.
Kumaritashvili was traveling approximately 90 mph when the crash occurred. The Associated Press is reporting that luge team captains will meet to discuss the safety of the luge track, which has been called the fastest in the world.
A Georgian luger was thrown from the track this afternoon during a frightening crash in a practice run in Whistler.
Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, lost control at turn 16 and was catapulted from his sled off the side of the track during his second run of the day during men's singles training. Turn 16 is considered one of the faster parts of the track.
He was treated onsite by medical personnel, who administered CPR, then was rushed away in an ambulance. There have been no further reports on his condition.
Kumaritashvili previously crashed Wednesday during his second run in men's singles training.
In a stunning development at the track, China's Liu Xiang, the former world
record-holder in the 110-meter hurdles, is done for the Games. Liu was in
the starting blocks for his qualifying heat and after a false start, he
grabbed his right hamstring, and dropped out of the race. He ripped his
lane number off the side of his shorts and immediately left toward a tunnel
beneath the stadium. Liu, a national hero in China, would later be seen on
television receiving medical attention. The crowd at the Bird's Nest was in
The Olympic gold medal hopes of Providence's Demetrious Andrade, the world's No. 1 amateur was dashed when he was outscored by Korea's Jungjoo Kim 11-9.
The bout was a close fought exhibition, but it appeared that Andrade was the busiest of the two fighters, but was denied scoring opportunities, Andrade said in his post-fight press conference.
He said he was "Jones-ed", a reference to Roy Jones' loss to a Korean fighter 20 years ago at the Seoul Games.
Almost 12 hours after Deena Kastor dropped out of the women’s marathon, her manager Ray Flynn said x-rays confirmed she has a broken right foot. The American record holder and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s marathon pulled up suddenly at the 5-kilometer mark when she felt a “pop” in the ball of her right foot and could no longer place any weight on it.
“My foot has been sore for the past week,” said Kastor. “I thought it was just tendons; they get hyper-sensitive leading up to the marathon. I was icing it this week. It didn’t affect how I was training. It was a bit sore when I woke up but had no effect on my running.
“[In the marathon], it was tight most of the way. I felt a pop in my foot. I couldn’t stand on it. I didn’t expect to be finishing the marathon in a bus. We prepare forever for the marathon, and we had a sound race plan. I was excited to get out, make my country proud and try to win another medal. As athletes, we have ups and downs. Unfortuantely, you can’t pick the days they come on.”
BEIJING-Tyson Gay failed to qualify for the men’s 100 meter dash final, finishing fifth in his semifinal heat with a time of 10.05 seconds. As a result, there will be no dream 100 final with Gay and Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell. What was hyped as a race to close to call now appears to favor Bolt, who won his semifinal in 9.85. And he still wasn’t anywhere close to pushing his body. Americans Water Dix (9.95) and Darvis Patton (10.03) both advanced to the final.
“I got tight a little bit because I was trying to make it to the finals,” said Gay, who started in lane 9. “I really couldn’t see anybody, then toward the end I saw everybody and I was like, ‘Dang.’ I tried to relax, but I think it was too late.”
Gay said his hamstring felt fine and did not affect his performance, though it did derail his training enough to make a difference. With time to train more and race once or twice before the Olympics, Gay figured there might have been a better result in the semifinal.
Alexander Artemev, one of the two remaining alternates, has replaced Morgan Hamm on the US Olympic gymnastics team. Artemev, who has a chance to win a medal on pommel horse, the squad's weakest event, was chosen over David Durante to replace Hamm, who withdrew today after re-injuring an ankle.
"It's an honor to be on this team, but it's a shame that it had to happen this way with Morgan getting hurt," said the 22-year-old Artemev, a former US all-around champion. "He's a tremendous loss to this team."
Artemev, who was born in Belarus, is the son of Vladimir Artemev, a former Soviet all-around champion. He became a citizen in 2002.
As his twin had before him, US gymnast Morgan Hamm withdrew from the Olympics on Thursday after a chronic ankle injury worsened. "This has been an extremely hard decision for me to make," said the 25-year-old Hamm, who had come out of retirement and survived a torn pectoral muscle to make his third team. "It's been a long, tough year. I put my heart and soul into gymnastics. To get here and not be able to compete is extremely disappointing."
Last week his brother Paul, the Olympic defending all-around champion who had broken a bone in his right hand in May, also withdrew after his left shoulder began acting up. Without the Hamms, the only two returning members from the team that won the silver medal in Athens, prospects for the US team become decidedly dimmer. With the qualifying competition beginning Saturday, coach Kevin Mazeika will have to tap another alternate for his lineup (Raj Bhavsar replaced Paul Hamm). The choice will be between Alexander Artemev and David Durante.
Hamm, who would have been a key contributor on floor exercise and horizontal bar, reinjured his left ankle in practice when he came up short on a tumbling pass. When he couldn't complete a floor routine during yesterday's podium training, Hamm consulted with personal coach Miles Avery and decided to pull out of the Games. "It's very tough because it's the end of my career," said Hamm, "and it's not the way I planned it."