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Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

November 19th is a big day for Claressa Shields.

Shields, who hails from Flint, will have her first match as a pro boxer.

Flickr user Agência Brasil Fotografias/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In the standings of medals won in Rio, Michigan would rank 16th if it were a country. That’s according to a story in the Detroit Free Press by Brian Manzullo.

“What’s impressive about that is these are the summer Olympics," sports commentator John. U Bacon said. "This is Michigan, man. Summer’s not our thing." 

Bacon joined Stateside to discuss Michigan’s outstanding performance at this year’s Summer Olympics – with a special hat tip to Olympians Michael Phelps and Nick Willis – and Ryan Lochte’s “we were robbed at gunpoint” lie.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields returned home to Flint this afternoon to a hero’s welcome.

“When I say two-time, you all say champ!” Shields yelled, leading her own cheers at Flint’s Bishop Airport, and the crowd willingly followed her lead.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are celebrating local hero, boxer Claressa Shields, who won her second gold medal on the final day of the Rio Olympics.

A standing room-only crowd watched Shields’ fight at Flint’s Berston field house, where Shields learned to box.  A picture of Shields wearing her gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics hangs above the front door of the field house.  

All through the middleweight fight, the crowd cheered and Shield’s sister Briana shouted at her to “knock out” her opponent, Nouchka Fontjin of the Netherlands.

Boy eating popcorn.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint boxer Claressa Shields is one win away from defending her Olympic title.

Flint’s Berston Field House echoed to sounds of Claressa Shields’ fans as she dominated her opponent in Friday’s semi-final.  

The 21-year-old Flint native won a unanimous decision over Dariga Shakimova of Kazakhstan. Shields now faces Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in Sunday’s Gold-medal bout.  

Shields won gold in the 2012 London Games. She can win a second gold medal if she defeats the boxer from the Netherlands on Sunday.

Athletes with Michigan connections have performed well at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
Flickr user Kirilos/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Summer Olympics in Rio are heading down the home stretch, and if you're an American, there's a lot to cheer about. 

One of the main headlines in the Summer Games has been the return of Michael Phelps. The swimming icon who spent time early in his career at the University of Michigan, finished this year's competition with five gold medals and a silver. With six more, he extended his all-time record of career medals to 28. In fact, Phelps has more gold medals, 23, than the next closest person has total medals (18).

Phelps won his six medals in Rio at the ripe old age (by Olympian standards) of 31. Most believe this will be his last Olympics, but will it be?

NBC's coverage of the Rio Olympics has drawn criticism from many viewers.
Flickr user Gareth Simpson / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

NBC has drawn plenty of criticism for its coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Count veteran sports journalist Joanne Gerstner among the critics.

“It honestly drives me crazy,” Gerstner said about NBC’s Rio Olympics coverage.

“I literally have not run into anyone who said, ‘Wow, I love NBC’s coverage primetime,’” Gerstner said. “Everyone is like, ‘what is this?’”

Flint residents paused today to watch local boxer Claressa Shields take to the ring at the Rio Olympics.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint boxer Claressa Shields returned to the Olympic boxing ring today with an overwhelming performance.

The defending Olympic women’s middleweight champion pummeled Russia’s Yaroslava Yakushina to easily win the quarterfinal bout.

Flickr user George Makris/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There have been plenty of Americans winning gold at the Rio Olympics.

And each gold medal win by a Yank means you'll hear the Star Spangled Banner during the medal ceremony.

Some have noticed that there's something about the version of the anthem being used in Rio that's just a little bit ... off.

But what is it?

Barbara Lucas

 

As the Olympics approached, Ann Arbor was a hive of training activity for a group of New Zealand athletes. They were drawn to the University of Michigan for the chance to work with retired men’s track and field coach Ron Warhurst.

Warhurst helped New Zealand runner Nick Willis win a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. Willis' success encouraged countrymen Julian Matthews and Hamish Carson to travel from New Zealand to Michigan and work with Warhurst in the hopes of qualifying for their first Olympics.

Warhurst’s coaching paid off — Willis, Matthews and Carson all flew to Rio to compete in the men’s 1500 for their country.

Thatcher Cook / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the 2016 summer Olympics kick off in Brazil tonight, there will be plenty of opportunities to root for Michigan.

Ten athletes who call the state their home will go for the gold in volleyball, track and field, rowing and other events.

In the boxing ring, you'll see Claressa Shields from Flint. In the 2012 Olympics, Shields became the first U.S. woman to win a gold medal in the sport.

In the pool, look for Allison Schmitt of Canton. She won five medals in 2012, including three gold. This year, she's back as a team captain.

Bo Schembechler and Greg Stejskal
Courtesy of Greg Stejskal

More than 400 Russian Olympic athletes are in danger of being banned from the Rio Summer Olympics.

With just 17 days until the games open, the International Olympic Committee is reviewing its legal options after a stunning report revealed the biggest doping scandal in sports history. Those options could include banning all Russian teams from Rio.

The World Anti-Doping Agency report spells out an elaborate doping scheme run by the Russian government. It says the cheating goes back to the Sochi Olympics and beyond.

It's proof that attitudes toward performance-enhancing drugs have certainly shifted since Greg Stejskal worked for the FBI here in Southeast Michigan.

And, as it turns out, a certain legendary Michigan football coach was ahead of his time when he raised questions that inspired the FBI's first probe into performance enhancing drugs.

Claressa Shields is the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing
screenshot

One of the breakout stars of the 2012 summer Olympics in London was a teenage girl from Flint.

Claressa Shields made it to London to become the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing.

Shields, nicknamed “T-Rex,” is still going strong. She won the World Championship in 2014, and she recently won gold at the Pan American games in Toronto.

Liz Ceay, Jailynn Borck and Nathan Arno of Lenawee Intermediate School District wait for the Special Olympic World Games torch to arrive at their post.
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

The Special Olympics "Flame of Hope" torch is currently on its way through Michigan as part of a cross-country relay trek to California.

It was carried through Detroit on Monday and made it to Ann Arbor on Tuesday, where a group of students from the Lenawee Intermediate School District were waiting at the Big House at 11:30 a.m. for their section of the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder honored Olympic ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the state Capitol today.

The two University of Michigan students won gold medals at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

During the ceremony, Snyder noted many of the Olympic ice dancing pairs live and train in Michigan.

“I think it’s fair to say that Michigan is the ice dancing capitol of the world,” Snyder said, which drew applause from the audience.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The 2014 Winter Olympics have entered the record books. The Olympic flame has been extinguished, and athletes and reporters are packing up and heading home from Sochi. 

NPPR's Sonari Glinton joins us from Sochi. 

Meanwhile in Michigan, Michael Lee speaks with Mercedes Mejia. Lee is a professional mime and physical acting coach. He's worked with 10 of the 24 figure skating ice dance teams at the Sochi Olympics this year, including Michigan natives Meryl Davis and Charlie White who are bringing home a gold medal. He also works with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

Lee says he helps the skaters become performers by teaching them how to animate their bodies. He learned miming from the late Marcel Marceau, an acclaimed French mime.

Lee explains the physical acting techniques he shows the ice dancers. It's all about breath, body movement, and emotions. 

Listen to the full interviews above.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

What do Olympic ice dancers who train in Michigan have to do with Michael Lee?

He's a professional mime and physical acting coach. Lee has worked with 10 of the 24 figure skating ice dance teams at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. That includes Michigan natives Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who won a gold medal this year. Lee also works with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who won silver. 

“These are professional skaters," said Lee. "They move beautifully, but at the beginning they don’t move as if they are performing, and that’s what I’m about."

Lee helps the skaters become performers by teaching them how to animate their bodies. He himself learned miming from the late Marcel Marceau, an acclaimed French mime. 

To learn more about Lee click here.

Watch as Lee explains the physical acting techniques he shows the ice dancers.

The sweater that will be worn by the U.S. team at the closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Stonehedge Fiber Mill

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. team got a lot of criticism for wearing Olympic clothing made in China to the opening ceremonies. 

For the Winter Games, designer Ralph Lauren used American material. The yarn for the sweaters and hats that will be worn in the closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Sochi was spun in East Jordan, Michigan.

Here's what the sweater and hats will look like:

 

U.S. Olympic Team / Facebook

Why in the world are the Winter Olympics in Sochi, one of Russia’s warmest places?  

Chalk it up to corruption – both the Russians’, which we’ve come to expect, and the International Olympic Committee’s – which we’ve also come to expect.

The IOC hasn’t just shown a willingness to be bought, but an insistence.

That’s how you get a Winter Olympic skating rink built in the shade of palm trees. The warm weather is funny, unless you spent your entire life training for these Olympics, and there’s no snow. Then it’s just heartbreaking.

Just what do you want your city, your community, to look like? Crowded bustling streets? Quiet, residential homes only? Zoning laws determine these things, and although those two words don't sound altogether exciting, zoning laws are creating debate all over the state. We found out more on today's show.

Then, what was that noise outside today? Did you hear it? Sounded like thunder? Well, in this crazy Michigan weather, we're getting thundersnow. We found out about this winter novelty.

And, we spoke with the man who designed and painted the masks on the U.S. Olympic hockey teams. 

Also, we checked in with Daniel Howes on the UAW bid to unionize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

And, head to Ford Field on Saturday if you want to be part of a world record. ComePlayDetroit is organizing the world's largest indoor yoga session at the home of the Detroit Lions.

First on the show, the state of Michigan is ending its exclusive contract with the Education Achievement Authority to oversee the worst-performing schools in the state.

Michigan School Superintendent Mike Flangan sent a letter to the EAA saying the state will pull out of its exclusivity agreement with the Authority one year from now.

Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says the state still intends to use the EAA to help turn around struggling schools.

“Now, this is in no way a statement or an indication of a lack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies. This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most-struggling schools.”

So, what are the other options the state might use to help failing schools? And what's ahead for the controversial EAA?

Jake Neher, who covers Lansing for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

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As the world watches the U.S. Olympic hockey teams in Sochi, they’re getting a good look at some real, made-in-Michigan artistry.

The masks worn by goaltenders Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard, and Bianne McLaughlin were all painted by artist Ray Bishop at his shop in Grand Blanc.  

“I started painting masks mostly for young players,” said Bishop. “My first professional mask was for the Detroit Vipers.”

He worked his way up from there. This is not the first time Bishop's handiwork has been featured in the Olympics. He painted goalie masks in 2002, 2006, and 2010.

For this year's games, Miller’s mask features Uncle Sam holding the Sochi torch. Howard's has a stars-and-stripes pattern. Brianne’s mask sports the shield from the U.S. jerseys. 

“It really just gives you goose bumps ... to think how many people actually can see a piece of artwork that you’ve done," Bishop said. "I can say I’m pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.”

You can listen to our conversation with Bishop below.


user Luu / wikimedia commons

They reached the pinnacle yesterday: Michigan's Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold medal in ice dancing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

They became the first Americans to do so, and they did it even with all the pressure of being the favorites to win the competition.

The two came to our studios last year right before their gold medal performance in the World Championships.

Their conversation with Cynthia Canty gives good insight into their solid and steady nature, and how they managed to live up to, and even exceed, the expectations at the Olympics.

Some of the things they credited to their success:

  • A hard-work ethic, even as kids (they're on the ice five hours a day, five days a week)
  • Parents who encouraged them, but were not too pushy
  • An incredible coach, Marina Zoueva of Russia
  • And White doesn't call it "swagger," he just calls it "a lot of confidence." 

Take a listen below:

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The Winter 2014 Olympics began today in Sochi, Russia. America's athletes will once again be sporting designs by Ralph Lauren.

 

What you might not know is that the sweaters and caps they'll be wearing for the closing ceremonies will be made from yarn produced in Michigan.

Debbie McDermott is a shepherd, a spinner and a fiber artist. She owns Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

After years of debate, Congress has sent the almost $1 trillion farm bill to President Obama, and, as usual, opposition to the legislation was a left-right affair. On today's show: Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint joins us to talk about why he voted in favor.

Then, Michigan Radio’s political commentator Jack Lessenberry explained why fixing Michigan’s voting system may be harder than you think.

And, medical students are reaching out to provide health care to uninsured people. We spoke with one of these students about free student-run medical clinics.

And, a new mobile and Web app is providing food for hungry children in Grand Rapids.

Also, we spoke to an economist from the University of Michigan about the success of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

And, the owner of Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, Michigan, joined us today to tell us about how she was approached to provide yarn for the Ralph Lauren Olympic closing ceremonies sweaters. 

First on the show, it's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

He's been going through Gov. Snyder's proposed budget for the new fiscal year and has decided the governor's got something going for him: what President George Herbert Walker Bush called "The Big Mo."

Daniel Howes joined us today to discuss the issue.

U.S. Olympic Team / Facebook

It turns out that Michigan is really good on ice.

We've got 13 Olympic athletes going to Russia. Actually, they're probably already there since the opening ceremony is Friday.

The U.S. team is very serious as you can see.

Screenshot from Google Maps

When the Winter Olympics begins in three days, there will be snow on the ground in Sochi, Russia in part thanks to our next guest.

Joe VanderKelen, President of SMI Snowmakers in Midland, Michigan joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some scientists at Dow Chemical in Midland plan to spend some of their break time next month watching TV coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

But they’ve got more than the usual rooting interest in one of the Games' more obscure sports.

In a nondescript laboratory deep inside the warren of buildings that make up the massive Dow Chemical complex in Midland, a large machine is shaking and rattling something that looks like a miniature sleigh.

olympic.org/photos/sochi-2014

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow is joining other members of Congress who are expressing concern about security at the Winter Olympic games next month in Russia.

There are concerns that the games face an unprecedented terrorist threat level.

Stabenow says Russian authorities have not shared enough of their security plans for the games.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Members of Congress, including one from Michigan, say they have serious concerns about Americans' safety at next month's Olympics in Russia, and they want Moscow to cooperate more on security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised his country will do all it can to ensure a safe Olympics.

The State Department has advised Americans planning to go that they should keep vigilant about security because of potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care.

ibnlive.in.com

Michigan State University is hosting the quadrennial World Dwarf Games.

The Olympics-style athletic event is drawing more than 400 athletes from 17 countries.

Mike Cekanor is with the Dwarf Athletic Association of America. He says the games are a great showcase for dwarf athletes.

“I think in a lot of ways at times are athletes are overlooked,” says Cekanor, “But at the same time, I think when folks really get to know and appreciate what our athletes are capable of that they are very well respected.”

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