For USOC, silence wrong road to follow after Coulter slur of Muslim Olympian

For USOC, silence wrong road to follow after Coulter slur of Muslim Olympian

The United States Olympic Committee is deservedly proud for having been named last week as one of this year’s business diversity leaders by Profiles in Diversity Journal, honoring the USOC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as “a means to achieve business success.”

For the USOC, that commitment can refer to both the athletes who represent the United States at the Olympics, their coaches and the organizational staff hired to support them - in the case of this award, specifically Jason Thompson,  the USOC director for diversity and inclusion.  Athletes, coaches and staff combine to help create the success measured in medals and other noteworthy performances at the Olympics and Paralympics.

That’s why I wish the USOC had done itself even prouder by calling out Ann Coulter for her hateful, racist tweet related to Ibtihaj Muhammad, a black, Muslim woman emblematic of the rich diversity on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

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For African-American Water Polo Goalie Ashleigh Johnson, The Medium Is The Message: Everyone Into The Pool

Swimming gold medalist Simone Manuel is not the only African-American woman with a landmark achievement in a Rio Olympic pool.

Water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson also has made history for black women in the water, whether she wins a medal or not – and her team has a perfect (4-0) record going into Wednesday afternoon’s Olympic semifinal against Hungary.

Manuel, 20, of suburban Houston, became the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming gold medal. In her reaction to that moment of triumph in the 100-meter freestyle, she also won worldwide acclaim with an emotional and eloquent acknowledgement of those black swimmers who had inspired her and her desire to inspire others.

Johnson, 21, of far exurban Miami, is the first black woman to represent the United States in Olympic water polo.

She also hopes her presence will have an “if-you-can-see-it, you-can-be-it” effect in motivating other African-American kids to learn to swim, whether or not it leads them to compete in one of the sports.


For Biles And Ledecky, Greatness Comes From Going Beyond The Top

RIO DE JANEIRO – In two hours Thursday afternoon, I went from watching Katie Ledecky, who defies the clock in a pool, to watching Simone Biles, who defies gravity on a gymnastics floor.

These two 19-year-olds, born three days apart in March of 1997, each dominates her sport in a way that leaves their rivals in awe.

“If Katie swims the way she can, we all are swimming for second or third,” Denmark’s Lotte Friis, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, told me two months ago.

“I knew Simone was going to win; I was just hoping to get second,” her U.S. teammate, Aly Raisman, said early Thursday evening, when Raisman had done just that as Biles took the Olympic all-around title by 2.1 points, the largest victory margin in the last 40 years.

Biles has a team gold medal. And the all-around gold. And she will be favored to add three more in the individual events.

Ledecky has three golds and a silver. She is heavily favored to win a fourth gold Friday after setting an Olympic record in the 800-meter freestyle preliminaries Thursday.

What Biles and Ledecky share is the same plan for getting farther ahead of the opposition when triumph already is a foregone conclusion.


From A Distance, Debbie Meyer Seeing Herself Again In Katie Ledecky

RIO DE JANEIRO - Every day, as Katie Ledecky gets closer to matching Debbie Meyer’s singular Olympic swimming triple, Meyer finds herself feeling closer to Ledecky. 

In ways big and small. 

“The similarities seem more and more as time goes on,” Meyer said via telephone this week from Truckee, California. 

From some 7,000 miles away, she is assiduously following Ledecky’s quest to become the second woman to win the 200, 400 and 800 freestyles in the same Olympics. 

Meyer did it in the 1968 Olympics. Now that Ledecky has won the 200 freestyle, the only race in which she was not an overwhelming favorite, it seems a foregone conclusion that she will attain the same elevated status as Meyer after Friday’s final of the 800-meter. In 2016, no one has come within 11 seconds of Ledecky’s time in the event, a world-record 8 minutes, 6.68 seconds. 



In Crushing The 400 Freestyle Field, Katie Ledecky Also Beat A Tougher Opponent: Her Own Goals

RIO DE JANEIRO - It’s a good thing Katie Ledecky thinks competing against herself is fun.

Otherwise, there would be little about racing to keep her entertained.

After only 100 meters of Sunday’s Olympic final in the 400-meter freestyle, Ledecky was a body length ahead. Just that quickly, she had reduced the race to Katie against Katie, a chase of her own world record, in which she also became triumphant.

The numbers on her winning time would be so stunning they made bronze medalist teammate Leah Smith gasp. “3:56?” Smith could be seen saying as she congratulated Ledecky in the water after the race.

Ledecky had bypassed the 3:57s entirely.

The exact time was 3 minutes, 56.46 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than the mark (3:58.37) Ledecky had set at the Pan Pacific Championships two years ago. It was the largest drop in the 400-meter world record since 1976.