Aries Merritt showing off his kidney transplant scar at a pre-Pre news conference

2024 Bid Cities, Sochi 2014, Tokyo 2020, Track and field

The incredible Aries Merritt, and more

A dozen musings on track and field, on the 2024 Summer Games bid race and more:

1. At a news conference Friday in Eugene, Oregon, before Saturday’s line-up of events at the 42nd annual Prefontaine Classic, the question went out to Aries Merritt, the 2012 London men’s 110-meter hurdles champion who is also the world record-holder, 12.8 seconds, in the event: on a scale of one to 10, where did he fall?

A tableau from the closing ceremony -- brides hanging from helium-filled balloons

Sochi 2014

“The new face of Russia”

ADLER, Russia — The Sochi 2014 Winter Games drew Sunday night to a close, an Olympics intent on projecting the image of a strong and confident new Russia across this vast country and to the world beyond, with a mighty Russian team awakening the echoes of the mighty Soviet sport system to prideful spectator cheers of “Ro-ssi-ya! Ro-ssi-ya!”

Albeit, over 17 days, to the beat of “Get Lucky” by a Russian police choir. And cheerful volunteers yelling, “Good morning!” while dancing to the Black Eyed Peas.

A scene from early in Friday's "Dreams of Russia"

Sochi 2014

Putin’s big “Dreams about Russia”

ADLER, Russia — In a ceremony entitled “Dreams about Russia,” the Sochi 2014 Olympics got underway, arguably the most controversial and contentious Winter Games in history, as much a referendum on modern Russia as celebration of the best in winter sports.

“Welcome to the center of the universe!” Russian TV star Yana Churikova shouted to kick off the evening, touching off a show that veered through the centuries amid the strains of classical music, the thump of dance music and the crash and boom of fireworks that lit the night sky.

IOC president Thomas Bach and Russian president Vladimir Putin Tuesday in Sochi // photo courtesy Russian president's office

Sochi 2014

Bach: not a stage “to score points”

SOCHI, Russia — We all make choices. Those choices hold consequences. A few weeks back, the president of the United States opted in his choice of the White House delegation to the 2014 Winter Games not to include even one senior American political figure but, in an obvious protest of Russia’s law against gay “propaganda,” to send, among others, the tennis legend Billie Jean King.

In a blunt address Tuesday night opening the 126th session of the International Olympic Committee, with the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on hand, the new IOC president, Thomas Bach, declared, “People have a very good understanding of what it really means to single out the Olympic Games to make an ostentatious gesture which allegedly costs nothing but produces international headlines.”