Dara Torres Named to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame

It’s the (Hall of) Fame game forDara Torres

The 52-year-old Cuban American former competitive swimmer has been named to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame‘s class of 2019. 

Dara Torres,

Torres is a 12-time medalist and former world record-holder in three events. She is the first swimmer to represent the United States in five Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008), and at age 41, was the oldest swimmer to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team. 

At the 2008 Beijing Games, she competed in the 50-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter medley relay, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and won silver medals in all three events.

Torres has won 12 Olympicmedals (four gold, four silver, four bronze), one of three women with the most Olympic women’s swimming medals. She also won at least one medal in each of the five Summer Games in which she has competed, making her one of only a handful of Olympians to earn medals in five different Games.

The rest of the class: Champion gymnast Nastia Liukin, once-shunned track stars Tommie Smithand John Carlos, Candace CableErin PopovichChris Waddell(Paralympics), Lisa Leslie(basketball), Misty May-Treanor(beach volleyball), Apolo Anton Ohno(short track speedskating), the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Ron O’Brien(diving coach) and Tim Nugent(special contributor).

The USOPC will hold an induction ceremony on November 1 in Colorado Springs, Colorado — the first since 2012.

After the Hall of Fame essentially stalled out, the USOPC’s Sarah Hirshlandpushed to revive it as part of a federation effort to focus more on athletes.

“We thank them for their impact on sport and society, and for continuing to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans,” Hirshland said.

Hernandez to Make Professional Boxing Debut in December

Nico Hernandez is turning pro…

The 20-year-old Latino boxer, who claimed a light flyweight bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games in August, will make his professional debut on December 10 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, on the undercard of unified junior welterweight world champion Terence Crawford‘s hometown title defense against John Molina Jr.

Nico Hernandez

Hernandez, who doesn’t have an opponent for his four-round bout yet, will fight as a 115-pound junior bantamweight after competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics as a 108-pounder.

Hernandez said he and his father/trainer Lewis Hernandez discussed the possibility of remaining amateur and trying to improve on his performance in Rio, but Nico said he really wanted to go the professional route.

“I made the decision because financially it would be better as a pro,” Hernandez told ESPN. “If I’m getting punched in the face, I might as well get paid for it. Now they’re letting pros go to the Olympics (as of the Rio Games), so there’s really no point in being an amateur boxer anymore since the goal is to make it to the Olympics.”

At the Rio Games, Hernandez ended the medal drought for Team USA’s male boxers, who had not won an Olympic medal since heavyweight Deontay Wilder claimed a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. Hernandez won a three-round decision against Ecuador’s Carlos Eduardo Quipo Palaxti in the quarterfinals to clinch a bronze.

Hernandez wasn’t considered a medal favorite when the Rio Games began, but his Cinderella run ended with a decision loss to eventual gold medalist Hasanboy Dusmatov, of Uzbekistan, in the semifinals. Two bronze medals are awarded in boxing.

Hernandez, who began boxing at age 9 and was approximately 122-13 as an amateur, returned home to Wichita as a hero. He was feted at a parade, and Wichita State University bestowed him with a four-year, full-ride scholarship.

Hernandez went 3-1 during the Olympics and became the first American light flyweight to win a medal since Michael Carbajal — who went on to have a Hall of Fame professional career — claimed silver in the 1988 Seoul Games. Hernandez said he plans to work toward a degree while boxing professionally.

“I definitely want something [to] fall back on,” Hernandez said.

But he is anxious to start his pro career.

“I can’t wait to go pro. I’ve been wanting to for a while,” Hernandez said.

Coloma Claims Bronze in Men’s Cross Country at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

The third time’s the charm for Carlos Coloma

The 34-year-old Spanish mountain biker, participating in his third Olympics, won the bronze medal in the Men’s Cross-Country competition in mountain bike cycling at the 2016 Rio Games.

Carlos Coloma

Coloma finished the race with a time of 1:34:51, just shy of Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, who claimed the gold with a time of 1:33:28 and the Czech Republic’s Jaroslav Kulhavý, who finished just ahead of Coloma at 1:34:18.

In his first Olympics, Coloma finished in 28th place at the 2008 Beijing Games. Four years later, he moved up to 6th place at the 2012 London Games.

Gasol & His Teammates Give Spain a Men’s Basketball Bronze at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

They may not be this year’s Golden boys, but Pau Gasol and his Spanish teammates still have reason to celebrate.

The 36-year-old professional basketball player, who will be heading to the San Antonio Spurs this upcoming NBA season, scored 31 points in what could be his Olympic farewell, as Spain collected the bronze medal in Men’s Basketball at the 2016 Rio Games on Sunday with an 89-88 win over Australia.

Paul Gasol & Spain's Men's Basketball Team

Sergio Rodriguez made two free throws with 5.4 seconds left and the Spaniards, who captured silver at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games, got the defensive stop they needed as Australia fumbled the ball away on its last possession.

Gasol, who hasn’t committed to playing at the 2020 Tokyo Games, and his teammates celebrated by piling on top of each other near center court.

Paul Gasol & Spain's Men's Basketball Team

It wasn’t the medal they wanted, but after losing their first two games in Brazil, it beats nothing.

“Unbelievable,” forward Rudy Fernandez said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”

It’s a feeling Gasol wishes could last. He isn’t ready to shed his España jersey.

“I’m getting older and at some point I’m not going to be able to play,” said Gasol. “So when that day comes, I’ll accept it. It’ll be hard, but I had an incredible run. I can’t ask for anything else. Everything I gave, everything I lived as a basketball player, it’s a plus. It’s a gift.

“I’m just enjoying the ride.”

Craviotto Wins Bronze in Men’s Kayak Single 200m at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

Saul Craviotto has pulled a double…

For the first time in his three Olympic appearances, the 31-year-old Spanish canoeist has claimed two Olympic medals in one Games.

Saul Craviotto

Craviotto, who won the gold in the final of the Men’s Kayak Double 200m, took home the bronze in the Men’s Kayak Single 200m competition at the 2016 Rio Games.

It’s the fourth Olympic medal in his career.

Saul Craviotto

Craviotto won the gold in the Men’s Kayak Double 500m competition at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Four years later, he took home the silver in the Men’s Kayak Single 200m competition at the 2012 London Games.

Craviotto Partners with Cristian Toro to Win Gold in the Men’s Kayak Double 200M at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

Make that three Olympic medals for Saul Craviotto

The 31-year-old Spanish sprint canoer and his partner Cristian Toro raced to the gold medal in the final of the Men’s Kayak Double 200 m at the 2016 Rio Games.

Saul Craviotto & Cristian Toro

Craviotto and Toro finished the race in 32.07 seconds. Great Britain’s Liam Heath and Jon Schofield took home the silver medal at 32.36 seconds, while Aurimas Lankas and Edvinas Ramanauskas of Lithuania won bronze at 32.38.

Craviotto previously won the gold medal with Carlos Pérez in the K-2 500 m competition at the 2008 Beijing Games. He also took home the silver in the K-1 200 m competition at the 2012 London Games.

Craviotto has also won seven medals at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships with three golds (K-1 4 x 200 m: 2009, 2010, 2011), two silvers (K-2 200 m: 2009, 2010) and two bronzes (K-1 200m: 2013, 2014).

Conceição Wins Brazil’s First Gold Medal in Boxing at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

Robson Conceição is officially Brazil’s first boxing Golden boy….

The 27-year-old Brazilian amateur boxer won Brazil’s first Olympic boxing gold medal on Tuesday night at the 2016 Rio Games, delighting a frenzied home audience with a unanimous decision over France’s Sofiane Oumiha.

Robson Conceição

But Conceição couldn’t step up onto a medal podium without thinking about where his journey began.

His mind is never far from his impoverished neighborhood, where he discovered and honed a boxing talent that finally lifted him all the way into Brazilian sports history.

“It’s amazing that my life has changed forever,” Conceição said.

The largest boxing crowd of the Olympics filled the arena with songs, cheers and foot-stomping craziness for Conceição, who found his path out of poverty through the boxing rings of the state of Bahia, the sport’s biggest hotbed in Brazil.

Robson Conceição

“It was an incredible feeling to represent the whole of Brazil and also Bahia,” said Conceição, who stood atop the podium with his arms raised, basking in cheers.

“I continued to fight because of them. They gave me the strength when I was fighting, so it was an incredible feeling. It’s because of them that I got this medal.”

Conceição is an appropriate trailblazer in a sport without a rabid passion or fan base in Brazil. Conceição fights aggressively, but with a Cuban-style skill base and an elusive fluidity that contains hints of capoeira, samba and the clever style of Anderson Silva, Brazil’s greatest mixed martial artist.

Even if they don’t follow boxing, everybody in Brazil recognizes something in his style, Conceição suggested earlier in the tournament. And now they’ll all understand the gold around his neck.

Conceição, a three-time Olympian, reached the peak of his skills just in time for his home games, storming through his bracket as the third seed and winning gold.

He credits his abilities to Bahia, where athletic Cuban fighting styles are often taught by imported Cuban coaches.

“Bahia has got the strongest reputation for boxing in the whole of Brazil,” he said. “That’s only because there’s a lot of poverty. A lot of kids are encouraged to box to get out, to escape.”

Brazil had won one silver and three bronze boxing medals in its modest Olympic boxing history, but Conceição proved he deserved his gold with a strong performance against Oumiha.

Conceição’s elusiveness, aggressiveness and creative punching kept Oumiha frustrated and hurt for the first two rounds, and a solid third was too late for the Frenchman.

Conceição collapsed to his knees when the decision was announced. He then jumped against the turnbuckle and onto the ropes, waving his adoration at the singing, roaring crowd. He eventually climbed out of the ring to kiss his young daughter, Sofia, and his wife, Erika Mattos, who is also a boxer.

Conceição claimed Brazil’s third gold medal of its home games, joining men’s pole vault champion Thiago Braz da Silva and women’s judo lightweight Rafaela Silva.

Unlike most of his Brazilian boxing teammates, Conceição is a tested veteran and a serious contender for the top honors in their sport. Along with his Olympic experience at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games, he finished second at the 2013 world championships and third in 2015.

After receiving an opening bye, Conceição advanced to the gold-medal match with a quarterfinal win over Uzbekistan’s Hurshid Tojibaev and a cathartic semifinal victory over Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez, a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic bronze medalist.

López Defeats Rival Riza Kayaalp to Claim Third Straight Greco-Roman Gold Medal at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

It’s a three-peat for Mijaín López

The 33-year-old Cuban wrestler, widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, won his third consecutive Olympic title in Greco-Roman’s heaviest weight class after defeating longtime rival Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the 130kg Gold Medal match at the 2012 Rio Games.

Mijaín López

It marked the third straight year that Lopez and Kayaalp met in the final round with a major global title on the line. They also faced each other in the Gold Medal matches at the world championships the last two years — Lopez won in 2014, Kayaalp won in 2015.

Their rivalry also includes a bout in the semifinals of the 2012 London Games, which was won by Lopez. He would go on to win the gold medal after defeating Estonia’s Heiki Nabi.

Mijaín López

Lopez got the scoring started early this time around, hitting a big four-point throw about 15 seconds into the match. The bout got chippy late, with Kayaalp connecting with Lopez’s head after the whistle blew. Kayaalp’s move briefly awarded two penalty points to Lopez, which would have given him an 8-0 victory by technical superiority, but the points were taken off the board. The match resumed with less than a minute to go, and Lopez ultimately emerged with a 6-0 win.

Lopez also won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Braz Dethrones Reigning Champion in Men’s Pole Vault at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

Thiago Braz has dethroned the reigning Olympic champion in record fashion…

The 22-year-old Brazilian track & field athlete set an Olympic record of 6.03m to win the gold medal in the men’s pole vault at the 2016 Rio Games.

Thiago Braz da Silva

Defending champion Renaud Lavillenie of France looked on course to retain his title after clearing a height of 5.98m.

Braz, who passed at 5.98m, failed his first attempt at 6.03m but went clear with his second to win the hosts’ second gold medal of the Games.

Lauvillenie took silver, while American Sam Kendricks claimed the bronze with 5.85m.

“The crowd were cheering me too much. I had to fix my mind on my technique, forget the people,” Braz said.

“The gold? Incredible. My first time over six meters. My hometown wanted me to win.”

The pole vault competition was delayed because of rain and then held up with a mechanical fault that temporarily saw the bar unable to be raised, but ended in a thrilling conclusion that finished just before midnight local time.

Braz added 11 centimeters to his previous personal best to set a national record and become only the fourth Brazilian to win a track and field gold at an Olympics.

The last Brazilian Olympic gold medallist in an athletics event was Maurren Maggi, who won the women’s long jump at 2008 Beijing Games.

Okimoto Wins Bronze in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

The third time’s the charm for Poliana Okimoto

The 33-year-old Brazilian long-distance swimmer, one of the oldest swimmers among the 50 finalists in the men’s and women’s Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2016 Rio Games, is taking home a bronze meal.

Poliana Okimoto

Okimoto’s road to the bronze was a very long one.

“I didn’t like the cold or the seaweed or swimming in such rough water conditions or with everyone swimming around me and being physical,” says Okimoto, who dreaded swimming in the open water. “I really didn’t like all these things in the beginning.”

But she was good at swimming longer than 800 meters, which was her speciality in the pool. She did a lot of local ocean swims in her native Brazil. Of course, 5 km races were even better and 10 km was the best.

Poliana Okimoto

Over the years, she won world championship races and FINA‘s 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup series. She was always competitive in international races except for a DNF that she experienced at the 2012 London Games.

She qualified for the 2008 Beijing Games, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics 10K Marathon Swims – one of the very few athletes who were consistently on top of the sport of marathon swimming. But a medal was out of reach and, at the age of 33, time was not on her side. She kept on training hard, always remembering her ultimate goal of earning an Olympic medal.

She is married to her coach, Ricardo Cintra, and they had forged a long-term strategy to win a medal in Rio. “I want to start a family and do other things, but when Rio de Janeiro won the bid to be the 2016 Olympic host, I knew that I had to continue,” she recalls.

During the 10 km swim, Okimoto was in good position to medal throughout the race. She took out the first 5 km easily and was in the middle of the lead pack, conserving energy. But when Sharon Van Rouwendaal opened up a lead with a fast surge after the 7 km mark, Okimoto knew that she had to give chase. This was her last and best chance to medal.

She fought closely with Rachele Bruni of Italy, Aurélie Muller of France, and Xin Xin of China. Only two of the four women in the trailing pack would win a medal. But fortune shined upon Okimoto on this day.

After Muller claimed silver and Bruni bronze, just ahead of Okimoto, her heart sank. Okimoto had given it everything she could. She had trained for this moment…and she lost.

But after a few confusing minutes and discussions among the referees, FINA’s head referee John West declared Muller disqualified and Okimoto the bronze medalist.

Her long road to success was finally and ultimately reached.