The One with the World’s Greatest Athlete

Fun Fact of the Day:  Love is in the air in Rio!  There have been 4 different marriage proposals during these games involving Olympic athletes.


Today's Rundown

OLYMPICS

Beach Volleyball.  Kerri Walsh Jennings won’t be going for a 4th straight gold medal in Rio.  She and partner April Ross lost in 2 straight sets last night to Agatha and Barbara of Brazil in the semifinals. This was Walsh Jennings’s first loss in beach volleyball at the Olympics, bringing her record to 26-1. Next up the Americans will be fighting for bronze tonight against another Brazilian team, França and Antunes.

Gymnastics.  Gymnast extraordinaire Simone Biles took home gold in the floor exercise. Her 5 medals at Rio tie her with the most of all time by an American female gymnast in a single Olympics. The medals have been great and all, but we’re pretty sure Biles was more excited about getting a congratulatory kiss from her celebrity crush Zac Efron. Former floor routine gold-medalist and teammate Aly Raisman walked away with the silver, and American men’s gymnast Danell Levya went from team alternate to winning silvers in the parallel bars and high bar. 

Track and field. Jenny Simpson won bronze in the 1,500m, marking the USA’s first medal in the event. Afterwards she called out silver medalist and current world recordholder Genzebe Dibaba for doping rumors. But it’s not just Dibaba—the event has been plagued by doping, including 6 athletes from the 2012 London games who have since been investigated or suspended. If you feel cold and jaded now, you should probably read this delightful story of two long distance runners who helped each other after they tripped during the 5,000m semifinals.

 

NFL 

Bad news Bills. The NFL has suspended Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for 4 games, after he tested positive for marijuana. This is yet another blow to the Bills defense, which has already lost several players to injury, including 1st round draft pick linebacker Shaq Lawson who is recovering from shoulder surgery.


Spotlight on Ashton Eaton 

Ashton Eaton might be the best athlete in the world and you’ve probably never heard of him.  He’s the reigning gold medalist and world record holder in the men’s decathlon, which starts today and continues tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know about this crazy versatile athlete.

What’s the decathlon again?  The decathlon is comprised of 10 track and field events: 100m dash, 400m run, long jump, shot put, high jump, hurdles, discus, pole vault javelin, and 1500m run. Competitors collect points in each event and the highest total score wins. Ashton holds the world record with 9,045 points. He is only 1 of 2 athletes that have broken the 9,000 point barrier, in the event’s 100+ year history.

Why haven’t I heard of him before?  The decathlon used to be a huge deal, beginning with Jim Thorpe in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, who was dubbed “World's Greatest Athlete" by the King of Sweden. Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner was all over Wheaties boxes after winning the gold in 1976. Nowadays, the sport has struggled because it takes 2 days of competition and adding up cumulative points, which isn’t conducive to our modern short attention spans.

What should I know about Ashton?  Ashton was originally a 400m and long jump athlete in high school, but not many colleges wanted to recruit him. Ashton was counting on an athletic scholarship to attend college because his single mother was working multiple jobs to keep them afloat. His high school coach suggested that he switch to the decathlon to attract more interest. Ashton agreed. He had never heard of the decathlon before.

Team Eaton. Ashton and his wife Brianne met in Brazil in 2007, when they were both competing in a junior track and field competition. They both went on to compete at Oregon University and got married after the 2012 Olympics. The couple trains together with the same coach and Brianne has said that it can be frustrating, because when you train with the best athlete in the world, I’m always the worst one.” Earlier this week, Brianne won bronze in the heptathlon (7 track and field events) for Canada, her homeland.


Hot Read

OLYMPICS

Basketball.  The past couple of games, the men’s basketball team has been squeaking by with really close wins. Tune into see if they can beat Argentina in the quarterfinals. 5:45pm ET on NBCSN.

Beach volleyball. Watch Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross compete for bronze against Brazil’s França and Antunes!  9pm ET on NBC.

Track and field. Watch Ashton Eaton compete in the men’s decathlon all day long. Beginning at 8am ET on NBCSN.