US team

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SIXProposed 2020 Olympic National Stadium Design Dropped Due to Pricetag: The $2 billion price tag for the new National Stadium in Tokyo proved to be too high. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, faced down the president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and former prime minister, Yoshiro Mori, and send the committee back to the drawing board. This decision effectively removed the possibility of the stadium debuting for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

No Boston Olympics

FIVE – Both Hamburg and Boston Drop Out: Both Hamburg, Germany and Boston, Massachusetts, USA were selected by their respective national Olympic committees to bid for the 2024 Summer Games, but both ended pulling out after referendum votes indicated the Games would not be supported by the cities’ citizens. While the bid for the 2024 Games remain competitive, with Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome still in the running, the reputation of the Games for their high cost, facilities that serve little purpose after the Games, the disruption to business and everyday life to locals, among others, continues to grow.

US Women Celebrate 2015 World Cup Victory

FOURUS Defeats Japan to Win Women’s World Cup: US had beaten Japan in the Olympics, but Japan was the reigning World Cup Champion. US goes into Rio with hopes of winning their fourth consecutive Olympic championship. The US team currently has 11 Olympians who only know gold: Christie Rampone in 2004, 2008 and 2012, Abby Wambach in 2004 and 2012, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Amy Rodriguez, Hope Solo in 2008 and 2012, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn in 2012.

See this link for 13 through 15, 10 through 12, and 7 through 9.

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NINE – Meet Caitlyn Jenner: Jenner reveals in July that she would no longer be known as Bruce Jenner, sparking a dialogue about what it means to be transgender. The 1976 gold medal-winning pentathlon men’s champion’s cover story on Vanity Fair, and follow-up television interviews helped broaden the world view on people who identify themselves as transgender.

Day Thirteen: The Championships - Wimbledon 2015
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Serena Williams of the United States and Novak Djokovic of Serbia dance on stage at the Champions Dinner at the Guild Hall on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships on July 12, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Thomas Lovelock – AELTC Pool/Getty Images)

EIGHT – Olympians Serena Williams and Novak Djokavic Win 3/4 of their Grand Slams: Williams won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon in 2015. She is a four-time gold medalist, winning gold in doubles in 2000, 2008 and 2012, as well as the singles championship in 2012. Djokavic won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon in 2015. Djokavic now has a total 10 Grand Slams, and took the bronze medal in singles play in Beijing in 2008.

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SEVEN – Barcelona FC Wins the Treble: In the 2014–2015 season, Barcelona win La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles, becoming the first European team to have won the treble twice. Olympians on Barcelona FC include Javier Mascherano (gold for Argentina in 2004 and 2008), Lionel Messi (gold for Argentina in 2008), Neymar (silver for Brazil in 2012), Luis Suarez (competed for Uruguay in 2012)

See this link for 13 through 15, and 10 through 12.

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TWELVE – Jordan Spieth Wins 1/2 of Golf’s Grand Slam: Spieth, who won the US Open and the Masters, reminds fans of a young Tiger Woods. He and other golfers will make their Olympic debuts in Rio.

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ELEVEN – Sprinter Usain Bolt Returns to Form: Bolt won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the World Championships in August, overcoming injuries and slower times up till then, as well as rival Justin Gatlin. Bolt has six gold medals, three each in the 100m, 200m and 4×100 relay at the 2008 Games in Beijing, as well as the 2012 Games in London.

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TEN – Yuzuru Hanyu Breaks Records: Gold medalist in mens’ singles figure skating in 2014, Hanyu skated better than anyone has ever skated in 2015,finishing the year by breaking the world record for short programs first at the NHK Trophy tournament in November, and then again in the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona in December.

See this link for 13 through fifteen.

What would a blog be without a list! Here is my countdown to the Top Fifteen Sports Stories of 2015. Over the next five days, I will share three stories each day that involved the Olympic Games, Olympians or Olympians to be. Here are number 13 – 15, featuring Mayweather, Rousey and Kobe.

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FIFTEEN – Olympian Floyd Mayweather Defeats Manny Pacquiao: In the long-awaited match in May, Mayweather won the welterweight championship fight in a unanimous decision over Pacquiao. Mayweather is a bronze medal winning champion at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games.

Ronda Rousey Holly Holm tale of the tape

FOURTEEN – Olympian Judoka Ronda Rousey loses to Holly Holm: In an attempt to defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship, Holm ends Rousey’s streak of 12 victories in a row in November. Rousey won a bronze medal for the United States in judo (-70kg).

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THIRTEEN – Two-time Olympian Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement: Bryant won gold with the US Men’s basketball team in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012.

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Created by CaroRichard http://carorichard.deviantart.com/

On the opening day of the Nagano Winter Olympics, February 7, 1998, the five continents of the Olympic rings came together in a chorus of thousands to perform Ludwig von Beethoven’s Ninth.

As described in this post, this was a feat of technical amazingness.

Each chorus was miked and its performance relayed back to Japan individually with precisely the amount of delay required in each case to get the choral parts arriving simultaneously, where they were then blended with the (delayed) live performance in Japan. All of these parts were coordinated and re-broadcast to the whole world together.

May you all find joy, coming together across the seas and over the mountains,  in harmony, as we bring 2015 to a close.

kiddy land present dayIt’s Christmas Eve! If you’re in Tokyo and you still haven’t found time to go Christmas shopping for the kids because you’ve been drinking late into the night at all of the bounenkai parties inside and outside your company, there is a one-stop shop for childrens’ presents – Kiddy Land!

Like FAO Schwartz in New York City, Kiddy Land is a go-to place for tourists visiting Omotesando, the main strip in one of the ritziest parts of Tokyo. Celebrities and tourists of all persuasions have gone up and down its five stories, getting their fix of Japanese cuteness (kawaii) and toy innovation all in one place.

There are whole sections dedicated to Hello Kitty and Snoopy. But more significantly, Kiddy Land claims to have introduced the Valentine’s Day tradition to Japan in 1972 (although that is more likely to have happened in the 1950s), as well as the Halloween parade in 1983.

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Kiddy Land ad in the Japan Times_October 19, 1964

In other words, it is a Tokyo cultural icon. I just never knew it had been around so long, as evidenced by the ad seen above in the October 19, 1964 Japan Times. In fact, Kiddy Land started in 1950 as a book store.

Many Olympians probably did visit Kiddy Land as it was only about a few football fields down the road from the Olympic Village. But toys made in Japan at the time did have a poor reputation, at a time when Made in Japan meant, cheap but poor in quality.

Even more interestingly are the other ads that populated that space. I suppose these ads reflected what was popular with visiting foreigners: swords, pearls, tailored clothes, handicrafts and “Beautiful Sweet Girls Beer” (only 280 yen!)

KiddyLand 1950

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Candace Hill, of Rockdale County High School, after being named the Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Thursday, June 25, 2015 in Conyers, GA.Photo/Gatorade, Susan Goldman, handout.

Candace Hill is one of the fastest women in the world. And she’s turned pro. At the age of 16.

She’ll be running in Rio, and she’ll be likely making a very, very good living along the way.

“Skipping college is attractive for three reasons: money, fame and momentum,” the sprinter from Georgia was quoted as saying in this New York Times article.

Candace Hill running

Call her arrogant. Call her the embodiment of the American dream. With the third best time ever in the 100 meters for women under 20 years old (10.98 seconds), she is not only the youngest woman to turn pro in track and field in America, she is the youngest person man or woman.

You would never have seen a woman like Hill over 40 years ago, before Title IX.

Title IX (nine) is part of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, a law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Barbara Winslow in the Journal of the Gilder Lehrman Institute stated the situation this way:

It’s hard to imagine that just forty years ago, young women were not admitted into many colleges and universities, athletic scholarships were rare, and math and science was a realm reserved for boys. Girls square danced instead of playing sports, studied home economics instead of training for “male-oriented” (read: higher-paying) trades. Girls could become teachers and nurses, but not doctors or principals; women rarely were awarded tenure and even more rarely appointed college presidents. There was no such thing as sexual harassment because “boys will be boys,” after all, and if a student got pregnant, her formal education ended. Graduate professional schools openly discriminated against women.

Today a generation or two of women have grown up in a culture that has encouraged women to all the pursuits that men had previously enjoyed. Thanks to Title IX, educational systems had to begin investing in girls and womens’ teams, which resulted in the popularity for women’s team sports like soccer, basketball, and baseball. Mo’ne Davis, who was the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in a Little League World Series