<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usSat, 30 Apr 2016 18:57:39 -0400Sat, 30 Apr 2016 18:57:39 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Tunsil Declines to Address Past]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 11:11:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/042916+laremy+tunsil+presser.jpg

The Miami Dolphins think they got the second best player in the NFL draft with the 13th pick. But there's a catch. A big, bizarre, controversial catch.

Just before Thursday's NFL Draft, a video was tweeted from the official account of Ole Miss Offensive Linemen Laremy Tunsil. The video shows him smoking from a gas mask bong.

The tweet and account were subsequently deleted, and Tunsil's agent has stated that the OT's account was hacked.

As the video went viral, team after team passed on drafting Tunsil, who was previously projected to be the first overall pick by some analysts. It's estimated the drop cost him millions in salary.

That is, until it was the Dolphins' turn. The Fins selected Tunsil with the 13th overall draft pick.

Miami said they were comfortable with Tunsil's character, saying they'd researched him and had him take personality tests.

"We did not expect him to be there (at #13)," said Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier.

At the Dolphins official draft party at Nova Southeastern University, fans were stunned they got Tunsil too. But many of them didn't realize why he slipped until we showed them the gas mask video.

He was asked if he has a drug problem he said no. And to those who question if the Dolphins can trust him? "Don't question my character," Tunsil said. "You can't judge a book by its cover. I'm a good person"

Tunsil said he was hacked on Twitter and did not specify who did it, adding he does not intend to press charges.

At a Friday press conference where the Dolphins were expected to introduce him, Tunsil was a no-show. Team officials said he couldn't attend due to an allergic reaction.

"There were some mistakes he had made in his past, we were comfortable with that, all the research we had done," Dolphins VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said. " We are comfortable with his character, very comfortable with Laremy, the player and the person."

Tunsil attended a later press conference where he said he was feeling better.

"The doctors took care of me so I'm good," he said.

Tunsil mostly avoided questions about the controversy surrounding the video.

"I'm excited to be here, it's a blessed opportunity just to be in the NFL, just to be a part of the Miami Dolphins organization," he said.



Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Philly's 'Steph Curry'-Brand Heroin]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:25:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/steph+curry+heroin+cp.jpg

Basketball superstar Steph Curry seems to be everywhere these days. At the White House with President Obama, on the cover of a parenting magazine and now on a brand of heroin.

SEPTA police confiscated a set of heroin-filled dime bags emblazoned with Curry's name and face in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood on Tuesday.

The stamp, as the branding is called, is like a logo drug dealers use to market the potent opioid to drug-addicted people. They can be named after companies (like Facebook), objects, feelings, or in Curry's case, people. These stamps come and go quickly, with dozens being sold at a time across the area, narcotics officers say.


NBC10 explored the tragic world of heroin and opioid addiction in the Philadelphia area and beyond in the in-depth investigation, Generation Addicted. Learn more about the issues people face and the new strategies being employed to help people get treatment here.


A SEPTA police officer came across the Curry stamp after stopping an 18-year-old man at Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said.

The officer stopped the Hammonton, New Jersey, man after seeing blood on his hands, Nestel said. He was arrested and the drugs were taken as evidence.

Nestel tagged the Golden State Warriors point guard when tweeting a photo of the drugs saying: "Thinking Steph Curry wouldn't be happy that he is this week's brand for heroin in Philly."

That's probably an understatement.

NBC10 reached out to Curry's reps to get his thoughts about the stamp, but we haven't heard back. A spokeswoman for the Golden State Warriors had no comment.



Photo Credit: SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel]]>
<![CDATA[US Synchro Swimmers]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 20:21:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0427-2016-SynchroSwimmers.jpg

Synchronized swimming, or synchro for short, has been called the most difficult sport in the Olympic Games.

This year, Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva will be the only swimmers representing the United States in synchronized swimming during the summer games in Rio.

At 9 years old, Koroleva emigrated to the United States from Russia, took up synchro and became so good she swam for Stanford University and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"You have to show up every day and you have to be on your best game every day, even if you're not feeling well," she said. "You have to push through it."

Alvarez, 19, has synchronized swimming in her blood. Her mother is a former synchro athlete and a current coach. Both athletes said they gave up traditional upbringings to become fierce competitors.

The duo's coach, Lolli Montico, said the athletes are training from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. This will be Montico's third Olympics coaching synchro swimmers.

Montico said the Olympic-caliber swimmers must have two things: legs and attitude.

"Beautiful shapes of the legs — it's so important in synchro," Montico said. "It's the attitude. Attitude is everything."

Koroleva cannot wait for Rio, when all of the hard work is rewarded.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Diehard Caps Fan Larry King: 'Red Through and Through']]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:48:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/2016-04-29_1643.jpg Larry King has been a passionate Caps fan for years -- and he's not shy about it. Here's what he had to say in advance of Thursday's playoff game against the Penguins.]]> <![CDATA[What Makes a Triple Crown-Winning Horse?]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:23:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-480966886.jpg

"The 37-year wait is over! American Pharaoh is finally the one! American Pharoah has won the Triple Crown!"

Those words from famed horse racing announcer Larry Collmus at last year's Belmont Stakes marked the end of a nearly four-decade drought, and thrust horse racing into the national spotlight.

American Pharaoh's gallop into the history books has left many wondering if there could be another Triple Crown winner this year. It's certainly possible, but experts say it will take a horse with the right combination of pedigree, training and versatility - and a little luck wouldn't hurt.

The Triple Crown of horse racing — winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes — is the pinnacle for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.

A mere 12 colts have achieved the feat since Sir Barton swept the series in 1919, and only once in all of American racing history has the trifecta occurred in consecutive years.

Of course, there have been some near-misses.

Between 1979 — after Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 — and 2015, 13 horses managed to clinch the Derby and Preakness races, only to be stopped on their quest at the Belmont Stakes.

At 1 and 1/2 miles (12 furlong), the third jewel of the Triple Crown is the longest race track in the United States. Richard Migliore, a former jockey and racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, notes race horses that compete at Belmont “probably have never, and will never, run that distance again."

"Thoroughbreds today are bred for speed, not stamina, so they are too fatigued to keep up the pace required to win the Belmont," Migliore said, adding that many of the contenders at Belmont don't compete in the previous two races and are well-rested.

Over the years, many have called on a change in the racing schedule, while others, including the owner of California Chrome, said the pool for the three races should be limited to the horses that enter the Kentucky Derby.

"Because it had been so long since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, most people thought that this was getting close to impossible to do, it was too much to ask a horse to do," said NBC horse racing reporter Kenny Rice.

The Triple Crown schedule is grueling. It is difficult for a horse shipped around the country to endure the rigor of the journey after a strenuous race and not become ornery.

But then came American Pharoah. As Collmus so aptly put it in the final yards of the Belmont on June 6, he was "finally the one" – the one who could indeed win three races, at three tracks, in three different states, at three different distances, in the span of five weeks.

"That's why it separates the great ones. I think that's why I like the Triple Crown as is, because when you win it, you're a great horse," Rice says. "You may have a little bit of racing luck along the way, but it's not a fluke. That's why I think all the horses that have won the triple crown are special horses."

There are many factors, tangible and intangible, that combine in the making of a great racehorse, and experts have varying opinions on what those attributes are.

Some point to pedigree. Many champion horses carry elite genes.

American Pharaoh, for example, carries the bloodlines of three Triple Crown champions: Count Fleet, War Admiral and Secretariat. On the other hand, Affirmed came from modest genes that didn't trace back to a Triple Crown winner. Its sire didn't produce anything of exceptional merit after Affirmed, and his 1978 Triple Crown rival Alydar was considered a superior breeding source, according to BloodHorse's Avalyn Hunter.

"When Affirmed went to stud in 1980, he was competing with fellow Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew, but many horsemen considered his rival Alydar much likelier to make a top sire given his deep female family," Hunter said.

Others attribute a race horse's success to premiere training. Owners seek elite stakes-winning trainers to get their 2-year-old thoroughbreds in peak 3-year-old Derby shape.

Much like March Madness, each stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby will determine who will earn enough points and prove worthy of a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. Purse leaders like trainers Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, Kiaran McLaughlin, Doug O'Neill and Bob Baffert have a track record of starting horses at the Derby.

But whether it's genes, quality training, mental constitution or just pure luck, one characteristic they all seem to agree upon is versatility.

"All the triple crown winners standout because they rose above any obstacles, avoided anything in their way — in this case other horses — and that's what we saw last year. That's how good American Pharaoh was. He could run at the front, he could run near the front. He had different gears that, when he needed to shift, he could. I think that's what the next horse that wins the Triple Crown is going to have to do."

There are no certainties in horse racing, but Migliore believes at least one horse competing in the 142nd Kentucky Derby is showing that ability.

"Nyquist has shown he is not a one dimensional horse. As a 2-year-old and in his Derby prep races, he's been forced ridiculously wide and has demonstrated that he can shift and win," Migliore said.

The champion thoroughbred will enter the starting gate at Churchill on May 7 as a favorite with an undefeated record. Rice says Nyquist's Florida Derby victory over rival Mohaymen was "the most impressive of the Triple Crown prep races."

Another front-runner, ranking second on the Associated Press' Run for the Roses Top 10 list, is Gun Runner. The colt, trained by Steve Asmussem, is an odds favorite having established a points lead over the field.

Santa Anita Derby winner Exxagerator is also a top contender. Exaggerator was one of the most accomplished 2-year-olds in 2015 and a close runner-up to champion Nyquist in the San Vicente S. at Santa Anita in his seasonal debut. He won the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby race by a widening 6 1/4 lengths, placing himself squarely in the middle of the Kentucky Derby picture. 

The final lineup of the 20 Kenutcky Derby contenders has yet to be announced and only time will tell if a Triple Crown winner is among them. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best Style Moves from the NFL Draft Red Carpet]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:07:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-525682684-elliott.jpg See all the best shots from the 2016 NFL Draft red carpet in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kentucky Derby: Test Your Horse Race Knowledge]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 13:33:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_522153153543.jpg

The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby will be held May 7 at Churchill Downs, featuring spectacular hats, plenty of bourbon and some of the fastest thoroughbreds in the world. 

Known as the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports," the Derby is steeped in tradition and style. Grab a mint julep and a Derby hat and test your knowledge of the race with the quiz below.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Paralympian From Maryland to Compete in Rio]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:41:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/042716+Tatyana+McFadden.jpg Paralympian athlete Tatyana McFadden will compete this summer in the Rio Paralympics. The Russia native born with spina bifida grew up in Maryland after a woman from Clarksville adopted her. As a child, McFadden repeated in Russian "ya sama," which means "I can do it." News4's Wendy Rieger reports on the power of "ya sama."

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[News4 Is Counting Down to the Rio Olympics]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:26:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SegalRio.jpg One hundred days from now, we'll be watching the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Storm Team4's Amelia Segal reports on the countdown kickoff from Silver Spring, Maryland.]]> <![CDATA[100 Days to Rio: Michelle Obama Joins Team USA]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:52:16 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/042716+michelle+obama+fencing.jpg News4's Wendy Rieger reports live from Times Square as the countdown to the Rio 2016 Olympics begins. First lady Michelle Obama played with children, and members of the U.S.A. Olympic team spoke.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[US Women's Hoop Team Named]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:16:29 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016++Olympic+sue+bird.jpg

The 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will have a strong connection to the University of Connecticut.

UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team and several of its members have played for him at Storrs.

UConn alums Sue Bird, of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Taurasi, of the Phoenix Mercury, are two of the three captains leading the team. Tamika Catchings, of Indiana Fever, is the other captain.

Former UConn players and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles, of the New York Liberty, and Maya Moore, of the Minnesota Lynx, will be back, and UConn star Breanna Stewart is joining the team for the first time.

Another first-time member of the team is Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky, who was briefly a UConn Husky.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, both of the Minnesota Lynx, as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Angel McCoughtry, of the Atlanta Dream, and Lindsay Whalen, of the Minnesota Lynx.

Brittney Griner, of the Phoenix Mercury, is another first-time Olympian.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee has chosen the team, which is pending approval by the USOC.

“Obviously it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” Auriemma said in a statement posted on the USA Basketball Web site.

He has led the USA National Team to a 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it's the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team. But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders,” Auriemma said in a statement.

He said an influx of young players will be a great benefit this year and will set the stage going forward.

“They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women's National Team,” he said.

DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will assist Auriemma during the 2016 Olympic Games.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held from Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[How the Caps Stack Up Against the Penguins]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:01:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/capsGettyImages-513219946.jpg

For the first time since 2009, the Washington Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.

Last time the two teams met in the playoffs, Sidney Crosby's Penguins walked away with a Game 7 win over Alex Ovechkin's Capitals.

The big names from that series -- Crosby, Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeni Malkin --  are still with their respective teams. But a slew of new faces strewn about the two teams offers a new, fresh take on the heated rivalry.

Take a look at how each team's units stack up against one another.

Forwards

In the Capitals' opening series, offensive contributions really only came from four players at 5v5: Backstrom, Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson. The only other two players to record a point at even strength were Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera, and Chimera's single point came from a lucky half-ice shot that slipped between Steve Mason's legs.

That spells trouble for the Capitals' second and third lines, which might see a bit of a shakeup in the Eastern Conference semi-final matchup. Marcus Johansson has been taking shifts as the second line left wing in morning skates, flanking Evgeny Kuznetsov, opposite of Justin Williams. That bumps Andre Burakovsky down on the third line along with Chimera and Mike Richards.

While the second line wasn't directly putting points on the board, they were still creating scoring chances. In fact, Kuznetsov's 15 scoring chances in the opening series was the second-highest on the team, only behind Ovechkin's 18. Williams recorded the third most with 13, and Burakovsky had the fourth most with 11.

That's encouraging, because while they aren't directly scoring goals, they are still generating threatening offense. And considering the large quantity of scoring chances the second-line was contributing, a few are bound to go in the net eventually if they continue pumping out offense.

The forward unit for Pittsburgh is quite clearly its strong suit. It's led by big names Crosby, Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist, but it's riddled with a tremendous amount of depth and little-known names.

Conor Sheary, who has played in only 44 regular season games over the course of his entire career, is penciled in as Crosby's left wing on the top line. Sheary is only 5 feet 8, but he's highly aggressive defensively and will look to generate offense off of the rush. Sheary loves to force turnovers and create odd-man rushes, and his speed allows him to break away from the opposition more times than not.

Nick Bonino filled in nicely during Malkin's prolonged absence at the end of the regular season. He closed out the regular season with 13 points in the Penguins' last 10 games, and he continued that production into Pittsburgh's opening series against the New York Rangers, finishing with five points in as many games. He will be joined with Carl Hagelin, who is another player that plays with a lot of speed.

Bryan Rust, Tom Kunhackl, Eric Fehr and Matt Cullen provide a bottom-six scoring punch. Just how deep is the Penguins' forward unit? The bottom-six forwards managed to record six of the Penguins' 21 goals in the opening series.

Defensemen

The shutdown tandem of Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen was rock solid in the opening series. Despite starting the majority of their shifts in the defensive zone against the Flyers' top line, the Capitals were still able to generate more shot attempts than they allowed when those two were on the ice.

Niskanen and Alzner will see heavy doses of Crosby, and if they can even perform at a fraction of what they played at against the Flyers, Crosby is going to have a very difficult time this series.

Brooks Orpik is taking shifts at practice, indicating he may be ready for a return. If he's ready, he'll slot in right along John Carlson, whose three goals were a major reason the Capitals' power play was able to convert on 8 of its 27 opportunities.

With Orpik's return, Nate Schmidt should slot in right alongside Dmitry Orlov, and the two should see favorable matchups that should help the Capitals generate offense.

The Penguins don't have a shutdown tandem quite like the Capitals, but they do have a lot of puck movers on the blue line that will look to jump into the offensive play. Kris Letang will be the most dangerous blueliner in the series, and he will likely be paired with Olli Maata. That's two offensive-minded defensemen paired with one another, and if both jump into the offensive play, it could lead them to be susceptible to an odd-man rush.

Trevor Daley and Ian Cole will serve as the Penguins' second pairing. Daley, whom the Penguins acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks mid-season, is another offensive-minded defenseman, but he's pretty responsible in his own zone.

Ben Lovejoy and Brian Dumoulin will likely be paired against the Capitals' third and fourth lines pretty consistently. Justin Schultz, another offensive-minded defenseman, may see spot starts in the series.

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby continued along with his storybook season with another stellar opening series against the Flyers. Holtby's .968 save percentage and his two shutouts leads all goaltenders in the playoffs. That series raised Holtby's career playoff save percentage to .940, and dropped his goals against average to 1.76. In 17 of Holtby's 20 playoff wins, the 26-year-old goaltender has allowed one goal or fewer.

The Penguins' goaltending situation is a bit up in the air.

Normal Penguins mainstay Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't made an appearance in this year's edition of the playoffs due to a concussion sustained late in the season. That injury opened the door for Matt Murray, who then proceeded to get a concussion of his own, causing him to miss the beginning of the playoffs. And that opened the door for Jeff Zatkoff, who allowed six goals in his two playoff appearances. 

Murray recovered from his injury, returned for the last three games of the series and walked away with three wins. He's good to go for this series matchup. But Fleury is still a bit questionable, although he has been practicing.

If it is Murray who ends up going, that's a 21-year-old goaltender with 16 total NHL games on his resume. In those 16 games, Murray has managed to record a .935 save percentage. Murray also played against the Capitals twice already this season. His save percentage in those two games? It was .910, which earned him a win and a loss.

And if it ends up being Fleury in the net, he's had a difficult time over the course of his career in the playoffs. In his 12-year career, Fleury has maintained a .906 save percentage, though in his most recent playoff effort, a first-round exit against the Rangers a year ago, Fleury held strong for a .927 save percentage.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Visualizing the Olympics: Medal Counts & More]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 11:05:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-149332217-edited.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[Dates, Times Announced for Caps-Pens Playoff Games]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:17:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/513222078.jpg

The schedule for the second round matchup in the NHL playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins has been announced.

The Capitals, by virtue of their number one seed in the Eastern Conference, will host the first two games on Thursday, April 28 and Saturday, April 30. Both games are scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

The series moves to the Steel City for the next two games. Game 3 is Monday, May 2 and Game 4 is Wednesday, May 4. Those games also start at 8 p.m.

If necessary, Game 5 is back in Washington on Saturday, May 7, Game 6 would be in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, May 10, and Game 7 returns to D.C. on Thursday, May 12. The start times of those games have not been announced.

]]>
<![CDATA[Road to Rio: Join in Olympic Fever 100 Days Out]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:02:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/gymnasts-olympics.jpg

The Rio Olympics are only 100 days away, and the buzz is all about who will represent Team USA.

While many athletes have earned their spots and a chance to bring home the gold, others will be vying for a place on the team over the coming weeks when swimming, gymnastics and other sports hold trials.

Golf returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century, and the sports world is full of predictions about who will be teeing off for the United States. But with each team limited to four players, many favorites will be staying home.

Then there is the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just concluded is causing microcephaly and other birth defects. Brazil’s health ministry has been working to ease visitors’ fears, but some athletes are weighing whether to give the Rio Games a pass.

As 10,500 athletes from across the globe prepare to compete in the first Olympics to be held in South America, here are some ways to follow along now:

Watch America's best earn a trip to Rio

Many spots on Team USA won't be finalized until just before the Opening Ceremony. Trials for some of the most popular events — including swimming and diving, track and field and gymnastics — have yet to be held. 

That means you can watch your favorite athletes battle for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. On the calendar in June: diving in Indianapolis from June 18-26, men’s gymnastics in St. Louis from June 24-26, and swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3.

On the calendar in July: track and field in Eugene, Oregon, from July 1-10, and women’s gymnastics in San Jose, California, from July 8-10.

So far, about 100 athletes have qualified in sports from boxing to wrestling. By the time August arrives, more than 500 athletes will have made the team. NBC Olympics is keeping track of the competitors here.

Pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher became the first official member of the U.S. Olympic team last July when he finished third in the 2015 Pan American Games. The 23-year-old will compete in the Olympics for the first time. The modern Olympic pentathlon consists of swimming, fencing, riding and a combination of running and shooting.

In the qualifying marathon in Los Angeles in February, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward won the top three places for the men, and Amy Cragg, Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan for the women.

Triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True have snagged spots, as have Yue Jennifer Wu, a table tennis competitor, and Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, all open water swimmers.

At the London 2012 Games, American women outnumbered American men in total medals and gold medals, and they are expected to dominate again in Rio. The U.S. women’s teams are world champions in basketball, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and water polo, and all eyes are on Claressa Shields, the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing at the London Games; gymnast Simone Biles, three-time world all-around champion; swimmer Katie Ledecky, a Olympic gold medalist at 15, and tennis star Serena Williams. 

In basketball, the final names for men’s and women’s teams will be announced by July 18. Among the finalists are LeBron James — though he says he is undecided about Rio — and Carmelo Anthony for the men’s team, and Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, both three-time gold medalists, for the women’s.

The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the Games, though the men’s team failed to, and its roster also must be announced by July 18.

And U.S. women’s water polo team goes to the Games as the reigning Olympic gold medalists. The team qualified by finishing in the top four in a tournament in March in the Netherlands, where it went undefeated and outscored opponents 123-35.

Who won’t be going?

Some of the country’s top stars will not be making the trip, sidelined by injuries and for other reasons.

Kobe Bryant announced he would not play in Rio after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he thought it was a younger man’s turn to play. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers also withdrew from consideration, while New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was forced out by knee and shoulder injuries.

In soccer, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe were both on the U.S. women’s World Cup team, but they will not be in Rio. Leroux is pregnant and Rapinoe is injured. Goalkeeper Hope Solo said in February that she would skip Rio if the games were being held then because of her fears of Zika.

Zika virus continues to be a worry

The CDC released travel guidelines that urge talking to your health provider about recommended vaccines and medicines, packing a health kit and monitoring travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take special precautions.

Much is still being learned about the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and which researchers have discovered can be transmitted sexually, not just through mosquito bites.

In February, the head of the World Health Organization praised the Brazilian government for its handling of the outbreak, but warned the situation could get worse before it gets better. Brazil has stressed that the mosquito population is much lower in August, the country’s winter.

Golf's Olympic comeback

Golf returns for the first time since 1904, when only the United States and Canada competed — and a Canadian won the individual gold.

Among the United States’ best prospects: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

But some of the world's top players have said they will be giving the Games a pass. Vijay Singh, from Fiji, was the first to say he would not play. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have pulled out, citing family and scheduling issues, and Adam Scott of Australia also pointed to a busy schedule when he said he would skip Rio.

Golf’s crowded schedule of championships has been a concern for players, but golf legend Jack Nicklaus is worried about the message they send by withdrawing.

“If the guys don't want to participate, then we might not be in the Olympics after this,” he told Golf Digest. “They vote next year. And if they vote to keep golf in, then that's great, but if not then we lose that momentum with growing the game.”

Before the vote to reinstate golf — 72 holes of stroke play for 60 men and 60 women — superstar Michelle Wie and champion Padraig Harrington urged their sport’s inclusion before the International Olympic Committee. But the vote covered only 2016 and 2020; another vote will be held next year to decide if it will be back in 2024.

Jillian Macdonald and Nick Zaccardi contributed information to this article.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Redskins Want Supreme Court to Hear Trademark Case]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 21:37:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-504367168.jpg

The Washington Redskins want the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their trademark battle with the government.

The case is supposed to be heard by a Richmond appeals court. But according to court documents reviewed by NBC News, lawyers for the team want the Supreme Court to intervene.

Attorneys said the high court may take up a similar case from a rock band fighting a battle over their name. They want the two cases heard together.

The federal circuit case involves an Oregon dance band called The Slants, a name that founder Simon Shao Tam said he picked to "reclaim" the word from its history of derision of Asians.

The Patent and Trademark Office rejected his application to trademark the name because it's "immoral, deceptive or scandalous," only to see the appeals court side with Tam, finding that that part of the 1946 Lanham Act, which regulates trademarks, violates the First Amendment's protections of free speech.

The Redskins' legal battle started last year when the U.S. Patent and Trademark office rejected the Redskins trademark, saying it was offensive. A federal court in Alexandria ruled in the government's favor.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[MD Native Katie Ledecky Ready to Swim in Her 2nd Olympics]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 21:34:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Katie+Ledecky+.JPG

Wednesday will mark 100 days until the opening ceremonies at the Summer Olympics in Rio, and a local swimmer is ready to compete for her country again.

Bethesda, Maryland, native Katie Ledecky rose to fame in the 2012 games when she won her first gold. She has since become the world record holder in three different races. The opportunity to represent the United States is what she says drives her.

“I have fun setting high goals and working towards those, and I have fun every day in practice training with really hard-working teammates,” says Ledecky. “So as long as swimming is still fun for me, I think I can continue to improve, and it’s just been a lot of fun competing internationally and having the opportunity to represent my country.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Get Your Caps Tickets for the Semifinals!]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:21:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/203*120/523837380.jpg

A small number of Washington Capitals individual game tickets for the 2016 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals went on sale at 7 p.m. Monday.

The Capitals have home ice advantage for the duration of the playoffs. They take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in semifinals. Games 1 and 2 -- and possibly Games 5 and 7 if the series goes that far -- will be played at the Verizon Center.

The NHL has yet to announce when the games will be played.

You can get your tickets by calling1-800-745-3000, going on WashingtonCaps.com, going to Kettler Capitals Iceplex and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Additional all-inclusive ticket packages are available at the Capitals Rinkside Club, the Budweiser Brew House and the Draft Ops Fantasy Lounge. The packages include a ticket to the game, a gourmet buffet in the event level of Rinkside Club, unlimited beer, wine and soda, amenities that run one hour prior to puck drop through the second intermission, and a Washington Capitals t-shirt.

Since 2008-2009, the Capitals have had 313 consecutive sellouts at the Verizon Center, including the playoffs.

For more information on tickets, call 202-266-CAPS or visit WashingtonCaps.com.



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Construction on New DC United Stadium Begins with Protests]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:01:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/soccer+construction+protests.jpg

Ground was broken Monday for a new soccer stadium for the DC United.

The mayor hopes this is just the first step to bring another professional team back to the Nation’s Capital, but an activist group is worried about the potential environmental problems for the neighbors.

Demolition teams began clearing land in southwest Washington near Nationals Park for the new DC United soccer stadium, set to open in 2018. The new $300 million facility’s costs are being shared between the city and the team.

Soccer fans were worried the team might move from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, where they currently play, to a place in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs. Robert and Jenine Plant, of Bethesda, Maryland, have backed the team since it arrived in 1996.

“Fantastic,” said Robert Plant. “We've been with the team, ups and downs, thinking about the new stadium, and now, it's a reality. We are so happy.”

Percy Goitia and his father, Jose Luis, from northern Virginia, are longtime fans of the team as well.

“Most recently, about three years now season ticket holders,” Goitia said. “This new stadium, this new project is definitely a blessing.”

Protesters, who worried about air pollution and funding for the poor, demonstrated against the project as crews as cleared out the area in southwest Washington. Members of Empower DC, an activist group, said not enough is being done some of the polluted industrial grounds being dug up for the stadium.

They are worried about the elderly, children and the infirmed in the neighborhood. But D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the construction would be mindful of the environmental concerns.

“Any investment in this area is going to enhance the quality of life for everybody,” Bowser said. “One thousand construction and permanent job because of this stadium.”

The mayor said she is also privately exploring a return of the Washington Redskins, bringing all the local major sports teams inside the city’s boundaries.

“If you want to win, this is where you’ll be,” Bowser said.

Construction on the stadium itself will begin this fall.



Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Feats of Architecture: 11 Summer Olympic Stadiums]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:49:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508730980-nrazil.jpg Cities that host the Olympics spend millions or billions of dollars building stadiums. The Bird's Nest in Beijing is among the most unique, but all of them are impressive. Take a look at venues from the most recent Summer Olympic Games as we gear up for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Decades After Chernobyl, Another Chance for Paralympian ]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:32:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16113695576026-oksana.jpg

There was no stuffed animal to hug. Constant hunger pains. Hope that a mom would show up and rescue her.

Those were some of the memories that flooded back when Paralympian Oksana Masters recently returned to Ukraine, where she spent her first seven and a half years shuttled among three orphanages. Masters visited with orphaned children that stared at her with an "Are you here to adopt me?" gaze.

Two decades ago, that face was hers.

She was adopted by an American woman who took in a malnourished Masters with birth defects believed to be from the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. On the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl this week, Masters is now in a much different place.

She's become a three-time Paralympic medalist in rowing and cross-country skiing, with her sights now set on making the cycling squad for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games later this summer. She's appeared in ESPN The Magazine Body Issue.

Above all else: She has a mother.

"My mom literally saved my life," the 26-year-old Masters said recently before a training session at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "I wasn't supposed to make it out of the orphanage."

Her journey began because of a black-and-white photo that Gay Masters saw through a Ukrainian adoption notebook. That picture of Oksana — circa age 5 — captured the heart of a speech pathologist who was teaching in Buffalo, New York, at the time. Oksana was born with webbed fingers, no thumbs, six toes on each foot, deformed legs, one kidney and only parts of her stomach.

She was perfect. The match was perfect.

Adopting her, though, was quite a saga. With the Ukrainian government placing a moratorium on foreign adoptions, Gay Masters had to wait 2½ years to bring her home. She sent care packages all the time, stuffed with teddy bears and other treats.

The little girl never got them.

She simply thought she was on her own again. That is, until one night at 11:30 p.m., with all the paperwork finally approved, Gay arrived to take her new daughter home.

"The adoption agency kept saying, 'You can go to Russia and get a baby now,'" Gay said in a phone interview from her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where they moved when Oksana was a teenager. 

"But that was my daughter. I couldn't abandon her."

At the time, the child weighed about 35 pounds — healthy for a 3-year-old, not so much for someone who was nearly 8.

"I know friends who didn't make it out and died," she said. "I watched that."

The new mom and daughter didn't speak the same language but found a way to communicate through gestures and by pointing at phrases in a book. It didn't take long for them to get on the same page and settle into their new life.

It was around that time when a dentist discovered the root cause of Oksana's birth defects. She was missing the enamel from her teeth due to radiation. Being from the region near Chernobyl, it wasn't hard to make the connection with the world's worst nuclear accident, which occurred on April 26, 1986. They believe her birth mom either lived in an area that was contaminated or ingested produce that was riddled with radiation, leading to in utero radiation poisoning.

"As a child, I didn't think about (Chernobyl) because I didn't know what it was. Being older and educated more what it was, knowing now how it is still affecting that whole area, it's just jaw dropping," said Oksana, who's from Khmelnytskiy in western Ukraine.

She was born with tibial hemimelia, which resulted in different leg lengths. She got by as a child by fusing her ankles so she walked on tippy toes, but her body could no longer support her weight. She had her left leg amputated near the knee at 9 and the right one at the same spot five years later.

About that time, she discovered rowing. The pull of the oars and the push against the water became a release, a "healing from my past," she said. Oksana became good in no time.

Before the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Gay gave her a replica Olympic medal that once belonged to Gay's parents. She taped it inside the boat for good luck during races. Oksana and her rowing partner, Rob Jones, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan while in the U.S. Marine Corps, wound up with bronze.

"I kept saying: 'Is it really true? Is it really true?'" Gay recalled. "It's just indescribable, how amazing it was."

Two years later in Sochi at the Paralympic Winter Games, Oksana captured silver and bronze in cross-country skiing.

And now onto a new challenge. She's a strong candidate to make the Paralympic cycling squad, with a final opportunity to qualify for the U.S. team in Charlotte, North Carolina, in July.

"I do think about Rio," she said. "I want to be there. But I don't want to get my hopes up."

A coping mechanism from her days in the orphanage: whenever a visitor arrived, they would put her in a dress and place a bow on her head.

"Every child looked at the next person that comes in as, 'Are you going to be my new mom?'" she said. "Every kid wants that."

Going back last October was overwhelming — and therapeutic. She talked with wounded soldiers from the conflict in eastern Ukraine and spent time with children in an orphanage.

"I often look back and just think, 'I can't believe this is my life right now,'" Oksana said.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[City Leaders to Break Ground on DC United Stadium]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 12:05:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014485383_1200x675_673036355910.jpg D.C. soccer fans will soon have a new home. City leaders are breaking ground Monday on a new stadium for DC United. News4's Derrick Ward is live at Buzzard Point.]]> <![CDATA[Lakers Split With Byron Scott]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 07:05:18 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Lakers-fire-coach-Byron-Scott.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers had fired head coach Byron Scott after his two seasons in charge of the team led to the two worst seasons in the history of the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was first to report on Sunday. 

Later in the evening, the team confirmed that it had opted not to pick up the option of Scott's contract, effectively vacating to position.

In his first season in charge, Scott led Los Angeles to the franchise's first 60-loss season: 21-61. In his second season in charge of the purple and gold, the 55-year-old finished worse: 17-65. Scott will not get a third season in charge.

The Inglewood native and former player with the Lakers earned a great deal of criticism in his tough approach with rookie guard D'Angelo Russell and second year forward Julius Randle. Though both players improved over the course of the season, Scott's decision to remove both players from the starting lineup early in the season did not appear to sit well with a loud segment of fans and national basketball writers.

In truth, the poor display of basketball over two seasons had a segment of fans marveling at how Scott retained his position for two full seasons. Scott’s 38-126 (.227) record over two seasons was largely overshadowed by Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Scott's relationship with Bryant likely helped the coach keep his job in the face of the worst season in franchise history and a consistently horrific product on the court.

After the season, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stated that Lakers executive vice-president of basketball operations Jim Buss would join him and take time to meet with Scott over the coming weeks. Just shy of 10 days after Kupchak commented on the season review process, the Lakers made the change.

Over those 10 days, however, the Lakers' front office drew a great deal of criticism for not announcing the separation sooner. Two prominent coaches linked with the Lakers, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, accepted positions in Minnesota and Washington, respectively. With Scott's departure, however, LA should be linked with nearly every top assistant and out of work coach, including Jeff Van Gundy and Ettore Messina, the latter of whom is currently an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Yahoo! Sports first reported Scott's firing on Sunday night. Shortly thereafter, the team confirmed the report by stating that the "Lakers have decided not to pick up the option for the 2016-17 season on the contract of Head Coach Byron Scott."

Kupchak said in a statement, "We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time."

Though technically not "fired," Scott had previously shared his desire to return to coach the team for a third season. The decision not to retain his services is effectively the equivalent of firing the coach.

Also in their statement, the Lakers stated that the search for a new coach would begin "immediately."



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps Beat Flyers 1-0, Advance to 2nd Round in Playoffs]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:02:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/203*120/523837380.jpg

In a game filled with hitting, phantom penalty calls and great goaltending, the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0, and advanced to the second round of the NHL Playoffs.

After a scoreless first period where the Caps had a 5-on-3 power play and outshot the Flyers, 12-5, it took until the second period for Washington to beat Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth.

Caps All-Star Alex Ovechkin did a great job fighting off two flyers at the blue line to feed the puck to Marcus Johansson streaking down the middle. Johansson quickly got the puck to Nicklas Backstrom on the right wing, who roofed it past Neuvirth to break the scoreless tie.

It was the first goal given up by Neuvirth in more than 70 shots on goal spread out over the past game plus.

The Flyers peppered Caps goalie Braden Holtby, putting pressure on Washington in the final frame, but Holtby stood tall, preventing any shots from denting the net.

The teams combined for more than 70 hits, each seeking to find a physical advantage over the other.

Refereeing will be talked about in the coming days after Backstrom was tagged for a double minor high sticking penalty after Flyers Ryan White was hit in the nose and blooded by a stick. However, replays showed it was White’s teammate, and not Backstrom, who actually hit White.

In the ensuing 4-minute power play, Caps Matt Niskanen was whistled for hooking. Once again, replays show Niskanen’s stick was on top, not under, the stick of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

The Capitals were successful in killing a 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 power play from the calls.

The Caps will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.



Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Capitals Lose to Flyers 2-0 in Game 5]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 21:54:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CapitalsGame5.jpg

Michal Neuvirth made a playoff career-high 44 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 2-0 in Game 5 on Friday night to stay alive in their first-round series.

Neuvirth was dominant, carrying the team on his shoulders and blunting Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' every charge to cut the series deficit to 3-2 and send it back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday.

Ryan White scored the lone goal for the Flyers against Braden Holtby, with the puck deflectingin off Washington defenseman Taylor Chorney and past the goalie.

Chris VandeVelde added an empty-netter late.

Holtby was barely tested in making 10 saves.

The pressure is now on the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals, who led the series 3-0 before Neuvirth replaced Steve Mason in goal for Philadelphia. Washington lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season.

Sidelined by a lower-body injury for three weeks, Neuvirth only played two games since March 4 before making his Flyers playoff debut in Game 4 on Wednesday, stopping 31 of 32 shots against the team that drafted and developed him.

Neuvirth faced the Capitals in relief while with the New York Islanders in the 2015 playoffs, but this was his big opportunity. Some of his former teammates made sure it was a busy one.

The Capitals put on a shooting gallery against Neuvirth almost all game, hemming the Flyers in their zone and forcing him to be sharp. The 28-year-old Czech made a big glove save on Daniel Winnik short-handed attempt early in the second period to keep the Capitals off the board, and then Philadelphia finally gave him some support.

Three seconds after another unsuccessful power play, White was credited with the goal when it banked off Chorney's skate and in. The Flyers fell to 1 for 21 on the power play in the series but remained alive.

Neuvirth was singlehandedly the reason for that as he sprawled to stop Karl Alzner, denied Ovechkin and robbed Marcus Johansson in the second period. In the third he denied Dmitry Orlov on a rush and smothered the puck and handled a slap shot from Ovechkin.

On a Capitals power play midway through the third, Neuvirth made another stand and always looked in control while facing an onslaught. VandeVelde scored an empty-netter with 30.8 seconds left to seal it.

The 33-shot disparity (44 to 11) tied the second-biggest margin by a losing playoff team since 1989-90, according to STATS.

NOTES: Capitals forward T.J. Oshie fought Flyers forward Brayden Schenn off the opening faceoff. The Capitals were unhappy about Schenn slashing Evgeny Kuznetsov in the leg during Game 4, and Schenn respected Oshie for challenging him to a fight. ... Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik missed his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury suffered on a hit by White on Monday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' Arrieta Throws No-Hitter]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 08:52:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523069578+%281%29.jpg

For the second time in less than a year, Chicago Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta has thrown a no-hitter as he blanked the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Arrieta, who no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015, walked four batters in the game, but he struck out six batters in his second career no-no.

The no-hitter breaks the Reds' remarkable streak of 7,110 games without being held without a hit. 

As for the Cubs’ batters, they were in fine form on Thursday as they beat the Reds 16-0. Kris Bryant cracked two home runs, including a grand slam, and Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and David Ross all went deep to support Arrieta in the contest. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Wizards Reach Agreement With Scott Brooks]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 19:41:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/179*120/FINAL+scott+brooks.jpg

The Washington Wizards reached an agreement with a new coach who hopefully will give the team an advantage in the courtship of hometown superstar Kevin Durant.

The organization agreed to a deal in principle with Scott Brooks, former head coach of Durant’s current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Brooks spent seven seasons as the head man in Oklahoma City before being fired last spring. He guided the team to the NBA finals in 2012 and reached the postseason five times.

The addition of Brooks may also help the team lure Durant back to town when he becomes a free agent this summer.

Brooks will take over for Randy Wittman, who was let go last week after four full seasons as head coach.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Getting Young People With Special Needs on the Ice]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 19:09:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/lake+placid+special+needs+hockey.jpg The American Special Needs Hockey Association -- with an assist by Alex Ovechkin -- took young hockey players on a very special trip to Lake Placid earlier this month. News4's Carol Maloney reports.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Rio Olympic Games]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 11:04:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16117516881811-rio-olympic-park.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>