Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditTuesday, August 16, 2022

Olympics

Video: 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva lands extremely rare triple axel

Kamila Valieva skating

Kamila Valieva has only been alive for the last four Winter Olympics, but she is already making history at them.

The 15-year-old Russian figure skater dazzled in her Olympic debut on Sunday, earning the top short-program score in the team final. Valieva posted a score of 90.18 points, boosted in part by one incredible move. She landed a triple axel, becoming just the fourth woman ever to do so at the Winter Olympics. Take a look (at the 0:34 second mark)

Valieva joins Midori Ito (1992), Mao Asada (2010), and Mirai Nagasu (2018) as the only women in history to land the triple axel in Olympic competition. By definition, a triple axel is a forward takeoff followed by three-and-a-half rotations in the air then a backward landing. It is known as one of the most difficult jumps in figure skating.

Though she won’t turn 16 until April, Valieva is already establishing herself as a giant of figure skating. She entered the Beijing Games as the holder of multiple world records and won gold at the 2022 European Figure Skating Championships last month. Valieva’s stellar performance on Sunday also put the Russian Olympic Committee in first place in the Olympic figure skating team event with three total events left.

For comparison, here is Nagasu’s Olympic triple axel in 2018, which was the most recent one landed prior to Valieva’s.

Video: Ukraine luger Andriy Mandziy faceplants during opening heat

Andriy Mandziy competing in the luge

One Olympic luger had a bit of a “Not Top Ten” moment during competition this weekend.

Ukrainian luger Andriy Mandziy went viral on Saturday for a mishap during the opening heat of the men’s singles event. While making a turn, Mandziy lost control and ended up faceplanting on the ice. Take a look at the video.

Mandziy appeared to be alright and got up on his own after the mishap. He was also wearing a helmet and face shield, as is customary for competition.

A now three-time Olympian, Mandziy is certainly no amateur. Per the broadcast, he was also going at a speed of nearly 60 miles per hour, which puts into perspective how difficult it is to maintain your balance as a luger.

Since Mandziy seemed to be just fine, we can all have a good laugh about seeing the most emphatic faceplant since the one of this fellow pro athlete.

Shaun White makes big announcement about his future

Shaun White in snowboard gear

Shaun White is competing in his fifth Olympics this year, and he took an opportunity this weekend to make a major announcement about his future.

Speaking with reporters at the Beijing Games on Saturday, White said that he would be retiring from competition altogether after this year’s Olympics.

“This has all had its amazing glow as I’ve decided that this will be my last Olympics,” he said, per ESPN’s Tom Hamilton. “I’ve given it my all, there have been some ups and downs on the way to get here. And with that I feel I’ve got stronger and better.

“After the Olympics I don’t compete much … as there’s so much pressure weighing on you and that relief is warranted,” added White. “I usually take the season off to get excited again, but this will be my last competition.”

The 35-year-old White added that he arrived at the decision at the end of 2021, in part due to ankle, knee, and back issues that he was dealing with.

White is perhaps America’s single most well-known Winter Olympian ever. He has competed at every Winter Olympics since 2006 and has won three gold medals, the most of any Olympic snowboarder in history.

This year, White will look to add to that career medal count as he competes in the men’s snowboard halfpipe event next week. White provided us with some very memorable moments four years ago in PyeongChang and will be hoping to do the same in Beijing before he rides off into the sunset for good.

Photo: Feb 13, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Shaun White (USA) reacts after a run in the halfpipe final event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

Caitlyn Jenner speaks out against Lia Thomas situation

Lia Thomas profile shot

The topic of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports has generated quite a bit of controversy recently, and Caitlyn Jenner’s stance on it has not changed.

Jenner, a transgender woman and Olympic gold medalist, was asked about the Lia Thomas situation during an appearance on FOX’s “America Reports” this week. Thomas was born a man but has been dominating in women’s swimming at the University of Pennsylvania. Jenner said she does not believe Thomas should be able to complete in women’s sports.

“I don’t know why she’s doing this,” Jenner said. “She knows when she’s swimming she’s beating the competition by two laps. She was born a biological boy. She was raised as a biological boy. Her cardiovascular system is bigger, her respiratory system is bigger, her hands are bigger, she can swim faster. That’s a known.”

Current NCAA rules state that transgender athletes can compete as women if they have undergone testosterone suppression for a year. The NCAA’s board of governors is in the process of reviewing the policy.

Jenner said the NCAA needs to “protect women’s sports.”

“All of this woke world that we are living in right now is not working,” she added. “I feel sorry for the other athletes that are out there, especially at Penn or anybody she’s competing against because in the woke world you have to say, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is great’ and on and on and on. No, it’s not. We need to protect women’s sports and the NCAA needs to make the right decision tomorrow, and I think that is probably to stop this right now. Rethink it.”

Thomas has been competing on the women’s team at Penn despite swimming for the men’s team the previous three years. She last swam on the men’s team as Will Thomas in 2019 and was a second-team all conference swimmer. Members of the Penn women’s swimming have indicated they are not happy with Thomas being allowed to compete.

Jenner is not the only former Olympian who has spoken out about the transgender sports issue. Michael Phelps also indicated recently that he believes it has become a problem.

Michael Phelps seems to have issue with Lia Thomas swimming with women

Michael Phelps

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas has been the subject of some polarizing debates in recent months, and the most decorated Olympian of all time recently shared some of his thoughts on her situation.

Thomas, who is transgender, has been rewriting the record books while swimming for Penn’s women’s team. She has been competing on the women’s team despite swimming for the men’s team the previous three years. She last swam on the men’s team as Will Thomas in 2019 and was a second-team all conference swimmer. Michael Phelps was asked about Thomas during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour recently. The 23-time gold medalist repeatedly spoke about the sport needing to maintain a level playing field and brought up the issue of doping.

“I think this leads back to the organizing committees again,” Phelps said, as transcribed by Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post. “Because it has to be a level playing field. That’s something that we all need. Because that’s what sports are. For me, I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

NCAA rules state that transgender athletes can compete as women if they have undergone testosterone suppression for a year. There’s no question Thomas’ presence on the women’s team has disrupted the level playing field, regardless of how you feel about the current rules. Thomas has already challenged women’s records that were previously set by Olympic gold medalists.

Phelps said he supports the transgender community but continued to advocate for an “even playing field.”

“I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field,” he added. “I don’t know what it looks like in the future. It’s hard. It’s very complicated and this is my sport, this has been my sport my whole entire career, and honestly the one thing I would love is everybody being able to compete on an even playing field.”

No Penn swimmers have complained about situation with Thomas publicly, but some parents of athletes sent a letter to the NCAA last month. Anonymous members of the Penn women’s swimming team also indicated they are not happy with Thomas being allowed to compete.

The NCAA may have to address the situation further at some point. Pressure from influential people like Phelps could create more urgency.

Photo: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Look: Simone Biles was at Texans game for boyfriend Jonathan Owens’ INT

Simone Biles celebrates Jonathan Owens' interception

Houston Texans safety Jonathan Owens recorded the first interception of his career on Sunday, and his girlfriend Simone Biles was in attendance to see it live.

Owens intercepted a Justin Herbert pass late in the second quarter of Houston’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Biles, who has been dating Owens for over a year, was shown in the stands at NRG Stadium celebrating the big play.

You can see the interception below:

Owens was elevated from Houston’s practice squad earlier this month. He made his first NFL start against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, and Biles supported him then as well.

Biles, 24, is a four-time Olympic gold medalist. She entered the 2020 Summer Olympics as the favorite to win gold medals in multiple gymnastics events, just as she had done at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Instead, she ended up with two medals, and withdrawing from four competitions, citing mental health issues.

Steve Kerr to replace Gregg Popovich as Team USA coach

Steve Kerr

Gregg Popovich has been the head coach of the U.S. men’s national basketball team since 2015, but his run has come to an end.

Steve Kerr is replacing Popovich as Team USA’s head coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Kerr will coach the team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023 and then the 2024 Paris Olympics. Two other notable NBA head coaches — Erik Spoelstra and Monty Williams — will be part of Kerr’s staff. Longtime Gonzaga coach Mark Few will also serve as an assistant.

There have been reports for a while that Team USA was eyeing Kerr as an eventual replacement for Popovich, but the timeline was unclear.

Popovich, 72, led Team USA to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. Kerr served as an assistant on his staff. Kerr also won a gold medal as a player at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, which was the last American men’s senior team comprised of all amateur players.

Popovich is 72 and in his 26th season as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. There has been talk of the three-time NBA Coach of the Year retiring, but a recent report indicated he could stick around longer than expected.

The transition from Popovich to Kerr should be a smooth one for Team USA, especially since Kerr was already on the staff.

Olympic runner Agnes Tirop stabbed to death at her home

Agnes Tirop holds up a medal

Agnes Tirop, an Olympic runner from Kenya, was found dead in her home this week after she was reportedly stabbed to death.

According to BBC Sport, Tirop’s husband is being treated as a suspect after Agnes was found on Tuesday night stabbed to death at her home in Kenya. The 25-year-old’s father had reported her missing after he could not get in touch with her. Police determined that Tirop had been stabbed in the neck and stomach and left for dead.

“Her husband is still at large, and preliminary investigations tell us her husband is a suspect because he cannot be found,” Tom Makori, head of police in the area, told reporters. “Police are trying to find her husband so he can explain what happened to Tirop.”

Tirop competed at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year. She finished fourth in the 5,000 meter race. She also won bronze medals at the World Athletic Championships in 2017 and 2019 and set a women’s world record at 10-kilometer race in Germany just last month.

Photo: Mar 28, 2015; Guiyang, China; Gold medal winner Agnes Tirop (KEN), center, poses with silver medalist Senbere Tefere (ETH), left, and bronze medalist Netsana Gudeta (ETH) after the senior womens race in the 2015 IAAF World cross country championships at the Qingzhen Training Base. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Olympian Katie Ledecky announces big move in her swimming career

Katie Ledecky

Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky on Wednesday announced a big move in her career.

The 24-year-old announced that she will be leaving Stanford and Palo Alto, Calif. to train at the University of Florida. Ledecky will also serve as a volunteer coach for the Gators swim team.

Florida announced the move on Twitter:

Ledecky, who has won seven Olympic gold medals during her career, added a statement on social media about her move. She said she decided to make the move because she has completed her degree at Stanford and would like to be closer to her family in Maryland. She also has a desire to train with the “outstanding mid-distance and distance group” Florida has.

Caeleb Dressel, Conor Dwyer and Ryan Lochte are among the standout swimmers Florida has produced recently, not to mention Dana Vollmer and Dara Torres. They have an outstanding program and should help Ledecky, who has no plans to retire.

Polish Olympian sells her silver medal to raise funds for baby’s heart surgery

Maria Andrejczyk

Polish Olympian Maria Andrejczyk received attention this week for her wonderful gesture.

Andrejczyk won the silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in the javelin throw. The 25-year-old then heard about a sick 8-month-old baby, Miloszek Malysa, who needs heart surgery. She decided to auction off her silver medal as a fundraiser to help pay for the boy to undergo surgery at the Stanford University Medical Center.

This was her announcement last week regarding her intent to sell the medal:

Five days later, Andrejczyk announced on Monday that the winner of the auction was Żabka, a Polish supermarket chain. Zabka paid $125,000 for the medal, which they are returning to Andrejczyk. The money will fund the boy’s surgery.

That was a very cool use of the medal by Andrejczyk, and a nice gesture by Zabka as well.