Usain Bolt returns to competition, more Olympic notebook
Faster than Usain Bolt runs a 100-meter race, tickets to view Bolt's return to competition in London this summer have already sold out. Bolt has said he will run in the 100 meters and the 4x100-meter relay at the three-day event at London's Olympic stadium in late-July that will mark the one-year anniversary of the Olympics. Distance star Mo Farah and heptathlon champ Jessica Ennis also are among the 28 Olympic medalists and 12 gold medalists slated to participate. It will be Bolt's first appearance in the UK since he won three gold medals at the London Games last summer. Bolt has always said he would love to play soccer for Manchester United and may make an appearance in one of the team's charity matches. You may see Bolt also making a cameo with bat and ball with his half-brother Sadiki, an ace with Jamaica's Melbourne Cricket Club.
Though he left his future in doubt after the London Olympics, Japan's Kosuke Kitajima took another step towards a comeback by getting back into training in California. Kitajima, who won Olympic gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke races in 2004 and 2008, will head to USC within the week to train again with U.S. coach Dave Salo for the next month. He'll then return for the Japan Open in late May. Though he won the 100-meter breaststroke at his recent national championships, the 30-year-old Kitajima fell short of FINA's international qualifying standard for the world championships and will only compete in the relay this summer in Barcelona.
More good news for Gwen Jorgensen, the Olympian who over the weekend became the first U.S. woman to win an event in the ITU World Triathlon Series. Jorgensen crossed the line in San Diego in one hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, four seconds ahead of Great Britain's Non Stanford and Australia's Emma Moffatt. Jorgensen says she needs to improve the swim portion of her racing to contend consistently for podium finishes. She only began competing in 2010 and was on the national team within a year. She placed 38th at the London Olympics. Jarrod Shoemaker's victory in Hamburg, Germany, in 2009 is the only U.S. triumph in the five years of the series.
The NCAA Gymnastics Championships are usually a competition in contrast, given the optics of age and the progression of talent. Men, who peak later, are usually on their way up; women, who peak earlier, are usually on their way down; though both competitions feature top performers. That was essentially the narrative last weekend in Los Angeles. On the men's side, Michigan's Sam Mikulak, a rising gymnast who emerged last season to make the Olympic team, won his second men's all-around title, repeating the title he won as a freshman in 2011. Florida's Bridget Sloan, the world all-around champ in 2009, won the women's crown. Sloan was considered a candidate to make the Olympic team in London, but underwent bicep surgery in 2011 and never returned to top form. She suffered an elbow injury during the week of the Olympic trials and abandoned her bid to make the team.
Through the deadly earthquake struck Ya'an, China, this past weekend, a world cup event in modern pentathlon proceeded as planned roughly 70 miles from the epicenter, in Chengdu. Several athletes heard buildings shaking and saw smoke in the distance as the earthquake struck at 8 a.m. local time, reportedly killing 186 people and injuring more than 11,000. Many assumed they would not compete and were surprised at the decision to hold the competition at the pentathlon stadium named for Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.
Count Philadelphia as the latest U.S. city to express interest in hosting an Olympics. The city's mayor, Michael Nutter, released a statement this week saying, "The Philadelphia region has enthusiastically embraced the prospect of bidding on and hosting a future Olympic Games, and we look forward with great anticipation to the opportunity to work with the USOC on this project." Philadelphia bid for the Olympics three times (in 1920, 1952 and 1956), but has never landed the Games. The city features Franklin Field, the Penn Relays site that was dedicated in 1895 and seats 52,500; the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, with stadiums that host the Phillies and Eagles and the arena that hosts the Flyers and Sixers; and the famed Palestra, the 8,700-seat home to Penn basketball.