Fun Fact of the Day: If you watched last night’s men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, you probably saw giant circular bruises all over Michael Phelps’s body. That’s because of a recovery method called “cupping,” in which athletes will have flammable suction cups placed all over their bodies to loosen muscles and tendons.
There’s been a ton of excitement this first weekend of the Olympics. Here’s your rundown of the biggest stories from this weekend:
Paralympics. In a strongly worded decision, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) banned all Russian para-athletes from competing in next month’s Paralympic games. This comes after reports revealed systemic state-sponsored doping, including swapped urine samples and suspiciously misplaced positive tests. Many are applauding the IPC for taking a stronger stance on anti-doping than the IOC, which banned 118 dopes but still allowed 271 Russian Olympic athletes to compete.
Gymnastics. French men’s gymnast Samir Ait Said suffered a devastating and gruesome injury while landing his vault. He broke both his tibia and fibula, leaving his shin dangling like a ragdoll’s. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time this has happened. Ait Said broke the tibia on his other leg in 3 places while landing a vault before the London Olympics. Ait Said promises that he’ll be back in Tokyo 2020 to try to medal in his premier event, the rings. In the women’s competition, the U.S.’s top two gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman qualified for the individual women’s all around to take place on Thursday.
Swimming. As expected, the U.S.’s Katie Ledecky added to her medal collection. She took home gold and set a new world record in the 400m freestyle and she took home silver anchoring the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Michael Phelps also took home his first gold medal of the Rio games, giving the U.S. a commanding lead in the 2nd leg of the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay. In controversial swimming news, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won the gold and set a new 400m individual medley world record on Saturday night, all thanks to her husband according to one TV analyst. Cue the doping rumors! The previous world record was set by China’s Ye Shiwen at the London Olympics. Shiwen was also suspected of doping, because her final 50m split was faster than Ryan Lochte’s, who won gold in the men’s 400m the same night.
Cycling. Everyone will be talking about a scary crash involving top Dutch women’s cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten. She went flying over her handlebars, going down a steep hill and fractured her spine in 3 places. She is in intensive care, but stable and speaking.
Soccer. The US women’s national team (the world’s top-ranked team) beat out #3-ranked France 1-0 in a highly anticipated matchup. Throughout the game, hecklers chanted “Zika” to psych out U.S. goalie Hope Solo. Solo has been talking about being afraid of contracting Zika for several months and recently posted a photo of herself on Twitter wearing a mosquito net and holding bug spray.
Basketball. Despite an accidental trip to a brothel, Team USA’s men and women’s basketball teams have been trouncing their opponents by ridiculous scores, in the group stage. The men beat China by 57-points and the women beat Senegal by a record-breaking 65-points.
Tennis. The Williams sisters were kicked out of the first round, losing their first ever Olympics doubles match to a pair of unseeded Czechs. Before yesterday, they were 15-0 in the Olympics and had won 3 gold medals. Serbian tennis superstar and #1 ranked player Novak Djokovic was also upset in the first round.
Spotlight on Alex Rodriguez
Don’t forget about other sports just because it’s the Olympics! Yesterday, the Yankees announced that Alex Rodriguez will play his final game this Friday. Afterwards, he will take on a role as a special adviser and instructor with the team. Here’s our spotlight on the ever-controversial A-Rod:
Is this really the end? Probably. A-Rod gave an emotional press conference yesterday where he said that this was the Yankees’ decision and he’s accepted it. Even though A-Rod didn’t officially use the R-word (retirement) during the press conference, he’s been suffering from hamstring injuries since May and has spent most of this season riding the bench, which he called “painful and embarrassing.”
The good. Statistically speaking, A-Rod is an incredible player. He currently sits at #4 on the all-time home run list with 696. He entered the league to a lot of fanfare and high expectations. He was drafted #1 at the age of 17, fresh out of high school and played his first game in the majors at age 18. In his 20 seasons in the league, he was nominated to the AL All-Star team 14x, named the AL MVP 3x, and won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009.
The bad. Off the field, A-Rod was known for his insecurities and being overly concerned about his public image. So much so that, his teammates allegedly called him A-Fraud behind his back. He was also a notorious womanizer, cheating on his ex-wife and dating the likes of Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz, and famous madam Kristin Davis (from the former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer scandal).
The ugly. A-Rod could be kept out of the baseball Hall of Fame for his use of PEDs. After denying it for years, he finally admitted to PED-use in 2009 and again in 2013 after the Biogenesis clinic scandal broke. Throughout the Biogenesis investigation, he tried to blame, sue, and lie his way out of a punishment. It was not a good look when he admitted to using PEDs just a couple weeks later, and was suspended for the entire 2014 season.
What does this mean for the Yankees? A-Rod still has 1 season left on his giant 10-year, $275M contract, so the Yankees still owe him a whopping $27M for sitting around and “advising.” That said, things are looking up for the Yankees, who are trying to make a push for younger players to revitalize the team. They traded away a bunch of assets before last week’s MLB trade deadline, and this weekend another golden oldie 36-year-old 1B Mark Teixeira announced he will retire after this season.
Q&A with Laura Okmin
Read our interview with FOX Sports host, anchor, and reporter Laura Okmin, who has covered some of the biggest events in sports, including over 10 Super Bowls, 2 Olympics, and multiple NBA Finals, World Series and All-Star games. Find out about her new venture GALVANIZE (a broadcasting bootcamp for women interested in sports broadcasting) and how sports media has evolved for women since she got her start two decades ago.