<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usSun, 28 Aug 2016 04:18:40 -0500Sun, 28 Aug 2016 04:18:40 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hero's Welcome for Laurie Hernandez]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 19:29:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/193*120/82816gymnast.jpg

Thousands of people turned out Saturday to give Olympic Gold medalist Laurie Hernandez a hero's welcome in her New Jersey hometown.

The 16-year-old gymnast traveled to the gathering in Old Bridge in a motorcade that included police, local officials and gymnastic groups.

The event culminated with a ceremony at a school football field where residents packed the bleachers, many cheering and holding signs praising Hernandez's efforts.

Hernandez won gold and silver medals in Rio de Janeiro. She was the youngest member of the five-person U.S. Olympics gymnastic team.

Her teammate Aly Raisman was also treated to a festive welcome Saturday in her hometown of Needham, Massachusetts. The Boston suburb hosted a "Rally for Aly."

Raisman won two individual silver medals and a team gold medal in the games that wrapped up earlier this month in Rio de Janeiro.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Still Winless in Preseason After 23-7 Loss to Chiefs]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 17:07:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+bears+GettyImages-596426660.jpg

The Chicago Bears are still winless on the preseason as they fell 23-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.

The Bears’ first team offense was abysmal in the game, with Jay Cutler only throwing for 45 yards and Jeremy Langford limited to six carries for 17 yards. Meanwhile, the Bears’ first string defense was forced to stay on the field throughout much of the first half, giving up 13 points and a slew of yards to a team that put together several clock consuming drives.

The offense finally came alive late in the fourth quarter, when Connor Shaw replaced an injured Brian Hoyer and pushed the Bears forward for a touchdown. Cameron Meredith did the honors, scoring the lone touchdown of the game for Chicago as he hauled in a touchdown reception with less than six minutes to go in the game.

Neither offense was able to get on the board in their first drive of the game, but as their second drive bled into the second quarter, the Chiefs pulled ahead. Alex Smith made a big play to convert on a thrd-and-long, and although the Bears’ defense finally made a pivotal goal line stop, Cairo Santos booted through a short field goal to give Kansas City a 3-0 lead.

After another field goal extended their lead to six, the Chiefs were able to punch the ball across the goal line late in the first half. Spencer Ware did the honors, running right up the gut and muscling his way past several Bears defenders to put Kansas City up 13-0 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Chiefs’ offense continued to pummel the Bears’ defense, and they scored another touchdown. This time-consuming drive was capped off by running back Darrin Reaves, who wormed his way across the goal line to make it a 20-0 game.

The Chiefs made it 23-0 with another field goal early in the fourth quarter, but the Bears were finally able to get on the board late in the game. Connor Shaw came into the contest when Brian Hoyer went down with an injury, and he completed a couple of passes to Cameron Meredith. The last completion came near the goal line, and Meredith was able to dive across to bring the Bears to within a 23-7 margin.

That was as close as they could get however, and things went from bad to worse late in the contest. On a throw, Shaw was drilled in the backfield, and teammates immediately waved for trainers to come to his aid. Trainers put an aircast on Shaw’s leg, and he was carted off the field as the Bears fell in defeat for the third week in a row.

The Bears will look to get at least one preseason victory under their belts next week when they head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in their final exhibition tune-up on Thursday night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys' Romo Has Broken Bone ]]> Sun, 28 Aug 2016 01:13:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ap-cowboys-tony-romo.jpg

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's season is in jeopardy after a MRI revealed he has a broken bone in his back.

Jason Garrett said Saturday he is confident that Romo will return at some point this season. Reports suggest he could miss 6-10 weeks.

"If you guys remember, he has played with fractures in his back before," Garrett said, referring to Romo's quick return from a small fracture in his back in 2014. "So that, probably more than anything else, is what is not giving us a timetable. We've heard a wide range of possibilities in terms of when he would be able to play."

Romo took a vicious hit from behind in Thursday's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. He was visibly in pain and didn't return to the game as a result.

Romo tried to convince the coaching staff he was OK to go back in, saying he was fine. After the game, the quarterback said he would be ready for Week 1.

"You're naive if you don't think when you lose your starting quarterback that it's not a punch in the gut," said Cowboys VP Stephen Jones. "Tony is one of the great players in the league."

The 36-year-old underwent two surgeries on his back in the last 30 months in addition to two collarbone breaks. Romo's back held up in 2014 and 2015 due to extensive maintenance which included limited practice time.

Jones told reporters on Saturday that Romo isn't nearing the end of his career.

"I wouldn't dare go there. Tony is more driven than ever to get himself into shape," Jones said.  "He's going to be the first one to say this won't be his last year."

Jones added the Cowboys are searching for a backup quarterback.

"If we see a quarterback that can come in here, we'll look at that," Jones said.

The Cowboys went 4-12 last season after Romo missed 12 games due to injury. They were 1-11 without him on the field.

Rookie Dak Prescott is expected to start with Romo on the sidelines.

"Dak has done a nice job really at every turn starting back at training camp," Garrett said. "I thought he did a particularly good job in this game against Seattle because he certainly didn't anticipate going in on the fourth play of the game."



Photo Credit: The Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Tracy Porter, Connor Shaw Leave Bears Game With Injuries]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 15:26:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bears+connor+shaw+tracy+porter+0827.jpg

An already thin Chicago Bears secondary is dealing with another injury on Saturday as veteran cornerback Tracy Porter was forced to leave the team’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to the Bears, Porter is currently being evaluated for a concussion after taking a knee to the head late in the second quarter of the contest.

On the play, Porter attempted to come in low on Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris over the middle of the field. When Porter began to go to the ground, Bears safety Harold Jones-Quartey came in and hit Porter in the side of the helmet with his knee.

The Bears then suffered another injury late in the fourth quarter of the game, as quarterback Connor Shaw went down with a leg injury. Team doctors ended up placing an aircast on his lower leg and carted him off the field, with the crowd at Soldier Field applauding loudly as he went down the tunnel.

Brian Hoyer, who had gone out of the game after a hit earlier in the contest, came back in to finish up at quarterback.

Porter’s injury is yet another problem for a Bears secondary that is quickly losing healthy veterans. Kyle Fuller is already out with a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, and his return for the start of the regular season is in question. Meanwhile, Bryce Callahan is also out of the lineup, dealing with a hamstring issue.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers QB Kaepernick Refuses To Stand During National Anthem]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 11:54:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-493261784.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not stand for the playing of the national anthem before his team’s preseason game Friday against the Green Bay Packers.

After the game, he told NFL Media in an exclusive interview that he is "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he told NFL Media. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Steve Wyche, the NFL reporter who broke the story, said Saturday that Kaepernick has been looking for a moment to take a stand for a few months.

"He wanted to find a way to make a point," Wyche said. "This, as controversial as it is, is the way he felt he needed to take a stand."

The 49ers issued a statement after the game, saying that it is Kaepernick’s prerogative to stand or sit during the anthem.

"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony," the 49ers said in the statement. "It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

The NFL offered its own statement on Saturday.

"Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem," the NFL stated, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Kaepernick, who has used his Twitter account recently to retweet accounts aimed at denouncing white supremacy and racial inequality, also told NFL Media that he is "not looking for approval."

"I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right," he told NFL Media.

Wyche said that this wasn't the first time this preseason that Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem, but now that the 28-year-old quarterback has captured national attention, he is ready to face any potential repercussions.

"He said he's got the spine and the backbone to deal with whatever comes to face him," Wyche said.

San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Chip Kelly said that Friday night's incident will have no impact on the quarterback's football future.

Justin Pugh, a lineman for the New York Giants, and other NFL players tweeted their opinions on Kaepernick's decision not to stand.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cubs' Kris Bryant Fuels MVP Speculation With Big Night in LA]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 13:05:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kris+bryant+cubs+GettyImages-596022514.jpg

It was another banner night for the Chicago Cubs in the City of Angels on Friday as they nailed down a 6-4 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As has become quite common this season, the man driving the comeback was none other than third baseman Kris Bryant. He launched his 34th home run of the season to keep the Cubs within reach, and after the team tied it in the 9th inning he cracked home run number 35 in extra-innings to help his team to victory.

The performance continues a strong run for Bryant in recent games, as he’s now hit seven home runs in his last eight contests overall. His power surge has propelled him back into the National League lead in home runs, with one more than Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, and he also leads the league in runs scored and total bases as well.

With his gaudy numbers (35 home runs, 89 RBI, 107 runs scored), his defensive versatility, and his status as one of the best players on baseball’s best team, there is an argument to be made that he is the favorite to win the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.

His raw numbers alone would be worthy enough to win consideration, but his advanced metrics are just as good. Bryant currently has a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 6.6, which is far and away the best number in the National League. Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers currently has a 5.4 WAR, a full win and change lower on the list than Bryant currently is.

Bryant’s WAR is so good in fact that he’s quickly closing in on having one of the best seasons in the category in Cubs history. His WAR is 26th best in team history, but if he can push it above seven, he’ll launch himself into the top 20. He’s already exceeded the 6.4 WAR that Sammy Sosa put up when he hit 66 home runs in the 1998 season, and although he won’t catch Rogers Hornsby’s 10.4 WAR from 1929, he’s poised to lay claim to having one of the best all-around individual seasons in team history.

Even with the gaudy numbers, Bryant is still going to have some stiff competition for the award, and it will start with members of his own team. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is going to get plenty of consideration thanks to his leadership role on the Cubs and his prodigious power, as he is tied for the league lead in doubles (37) and is in the top-five in on-base percentage and OPS.

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is also making a late push for consideration, and although his batting average is likely going to keep him out of the discussion, his penchant for clutch hitting and his status as one of the best defensive players in all of baseball are poised to make him a perennial contender for the award.

Several other players have got a legitimate claim as MVP candidates as well. Seager is having a monster season for the Dodgers, as he currently ranks second in the National League in WAR (5.4) and third in the league in batting average, checking in at .323 in that category.

Washington Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy, a thorn in the Cubs’ side during the 2015 NLCS, is also strongly in the mix. He leads the NL in batting average, hitting at a .346 clip, and he is a strong performer in other categories too. He is the only player in the NL with an OPS above one, sitting at 1.005 currently, and he also is second in the league in total bases (just four behind Bryant) and in RBI, with 98.

Finally, there’s Arenado, who leads the NL in RBI with 108 and has 34 home runs, just one behind Bryant for the league lead. Add to that his Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base, and his candidacy can’t be overlooked.

If Bryant can win the MVP award, he will become the first Cubs player to win it since Sosa won the trophy in 1998, but it will also continue a run of remarkable achievements for the slugger. He was named the best player in collegiate baseball in 2013, then won an award as the best player in the minor leagues in 2014. He then won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, meaning that he could finish off a remarkable grand slam if he wins another trophy this season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Playoff Watch: Kris Bryant Home Run Lifts Team to Win]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 09:49:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kris+bryant+cubs+GettyImages-596022926.jpg

Welcome to Cubs Playoff Watch, your daily look at the Chicago Cubs as they continue to push toward their first division title since the 2008 season.

Cubs’ Magic Number: 22

Things didn’t look great for the Cubs on Friday night, as Mike Montgomery walked four batters and gave up three runs in five innings of work to leave the team trailing against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fortunately for Montgomery and the Cubs, the team’s clutch hitting was present in full force for the game. Both Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell had two out RBI in the game, and Kris Bryant also slugged a home run to help keep the Cubs within reach.

Jason Heyward then smashed a double and later scored to tie the game in the 9th inning, and Bryant blasted his second home run of the night in the 10th to help lead the Cubs to an extra inning win over the Dodgers.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, they were only able to shave their magic number by one, as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1. Jedd Gyorko hit his 22nd home run of the season in the first inning of the game, and that was all that Luke Weaver needed as he pitched six innings and gave up just one run in the St. Louis victory.

Magic Number to Clinch Home Field: 28

Opening their series against the Colorado Rockies, the Washington Nationals kept pace with the Cubs on Friday as they picked up an 8-5 victory at Nationals Park.

Bryce Harper led the way for the Nationals in the game, hitting his first triple of the season and also adding a double as Washington slugged their way to a win. Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy also drilled home runs for the Nationals, who now have an eight game lead in the National League East.

What’s Next:

The Cubs won’t have a lot of time to celebrate their victory, as they’ll be back at it Saturday in an afternoon game against the Dodgers. Jason Hammel will look to bounce back after an atrocious start Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, and he’ll be going up against youngster Julio Urias, whom gave up six runs in five innings against the Cubs at Wrigley Field back in June.

The Nationals will also be playing an afternoon game on Saturday, with A.J. Cole facing off against Jorge De La Rosa in the second game of Washington’s series with the Rockies.

The Cardinals will look to continue their winning ways against Oakland on Saturday night at Busch Stadium when they send Alex Reyes to the hill against Zach Neal. The game will be Reyes’ first start for the Redbirds, as he’s made five relief appearances and given up just five hits in nine and a third innings of work.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dwyane Wade's Cousin Fatally Shot Pushing Stroller]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 09:36:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Aldridge0825.JPG

A woman was shot to death while pushing a child in a stroller on Chicago's South Side, police said Friday, and family identified the victim as a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade.

The 32-year-old woman, whom family identified as Nykea Aldridge, was apparently the unintended victim of a gang shooting, police said. She was walking around 3:30 p.m. in the 6300 block of South Calumet when two males approached another male and opened fire, police said.

Several hours after his cousin was shot, Wade sent out a tweet about the killing.

Pastor Jolinda Wade, Dwyane's mother, identified Aldridge as her niece. Family spokesman Pastor Edward Jones confirmed Aldridge is Dwyane's cousin.

"This is one particular time our family wished we didn't have to be speaking to the media about anything," Jolinda Wade said. "(I) just sat up on a panel yesterday, (with ESPN wesbite) The Undefeated, talking about the violence that's going on within our city of Chicago, never knowing that we would be the ones ... actually living and experiencing it."

Aldridge was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County where she was pronounced dead. A relative took custody of the child, police said.

Jones said Aldridge is a mother of four and had just had a baby. Jones said she and her family had recently relocated to the neighborhood and she was on her way to register her kids at school when she was shot. 

It was not immediately clear which school Aldridge was going to, but the shooting happened close to Dulles School, which was partially blocked off as police analyzed the scene. 

"She loved God, loved her family," Jones said. "Just like everyone else, just wanted a better life, to live a better life. This is tragic because now it struck home with us. Something has to be done. This has got to stop."

Wade called the killing senseless and said the Wade and Morris families were in a "sensitive, grieving place."

"She wasn't bothering anybody, just going to register her kids in school — and bullets that fly around have no name decided to find its way to her head," she said.

Wade said this is the second child her sister, Aldridge's mother, has lost to gun violence. 

Wade asked for prayers and said she will continue to be proactive in the community.

"We're still going to help and empower people like the one who senselessly shot my niece in the head," she said. "And all of our young people out there, senselessly shooting each other."

Two men are being questioned as persons of interest and an investigation is ongoing, police said.

Dwyane Wade decided to join his hometown Bulls this summer, and has been a longtime supporter of the South Side, where his foundation has been active. In November, after Chicago police released video of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting on the South Side, Wade wrote the teenager’s name on his shoes for an NBA game, along with the hashtag "#justice."

The Bulls released the following statement on the shooting death: "The entire Chicago Bulls organization is deeply saddened by the news of Dwyane Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Wade family during this difficult time."



Photo Credit: Facebook/Family
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<![CDATA[Rangers Pitcher Jeremy Jeffress Arrested for DWI: Police]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 18:34:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jeffress-mug.jpg

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels placed Jeremy Jeffress on the restricted list Friday, saying the pitcher was unable to perform after spending the night in jail after being arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

The 28-year-old was booked into the jail at 5:13 a.m. His bond was set at $500.

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The Rangers released a statement earlier in the day saying they are "aware of the situation involving Jeremy Jeffress that took place early this morning" and are "in the process of the gathering information."

Friday afternoon, Daniels sat before the media and discussed what he knew about the incident, but admitted there was still much to get their hands around.

Daniels said Jeffress' being put on the restrictive list was because he didn't sleep and would physically be unable to perform Friday night. He added that it was not a suspension related to an allegation of drug use or the arrest, and said that Jeffress would likely be back on the active roster Saturday.

Jeffress was suspended for 50 games in 2007 after testing positive for drugs — reportedly for marijuana — after being given a warning for his first offense. He was suspended for 100 games in 2009 for a third failed test.

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If Jeffress fails another drug test, he faces a lifetime ban. Daniels said Friday afternoon he wasn't sure if alcohol was on the list of drugs considered by Major League Baseball.

Jeffress and catcher Jonathan Lucroy were traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Rangers before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. He last pitched for the Rangers on Tuesday where he gave up one hit and one run in one inning of work in a 3-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

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Photo Credit: Dallas County NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Kevin Dineen to Remain on Blackhawks' Staff]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:56:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/060211+kevin+dineen.jpg

With just a few weeks until training camp begins, the Chicago Blackhawks were faced with the prospect of losing one of their assistant coaches to another job, but those fears can be put to rest as Kevin Dineen will remain on the team’s bench next season.

Dineen, who joined the Blackhawks’ staff in 2014, was one of the candidates in the running to become the new head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. Despite interviewing with the team, Dineen will be staying in Chicago, as Lake Erie Monsters head coach Jared Bedner will take over as head coach of the Avalanche.

The Monsters won the AHL’s Calder Cup this season, bringing a professional title to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization and giving Bedner a huge boost in profile ahead of the upcoming season.

When Patrick Roy suddenly resigned as coach of the Avalanche earlier this summer, Colorado was forced to scramble for a new coach, and the team agreed to terms with Bedner on Thursday afternoon.

The Blackhawks wouldn’t have received any compensation if Dineen had left, as the NHL abolished draft pick compensation for coaches that switch teams while under contract with another club.

Dineen will remain on staff with Mike Kitchen as an assistant coach to Joel Quenneville, who will be entering his eighth season as head coach of the Hawks.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jonathan Toews Named Alternate Captain for Team Canada]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:22:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523093378.jpg

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has three Stanley Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals, but that abundance of hardware wasn’t enough to secure him a prestigious honor on Thursday.

Instead, that honor, the captaincy for Team Canada in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, went to Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The announcement comes less than a month before the tournament begins in Toronto, with the first game scheduled to take place on Sept. 17 at Air Canada Centre.

Although Toews will not have the “C” on his jersey for the event, which will involve eight countries, he was named as an alternate captain for the Canadian squad. Joining Toews in that capacity will be defenseman Shea Weber, who was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in a blockbuster swap earlier this offseason.

Toews will be joined by numerous Blackhawks in the tournament, including Canadian teammate Corey Crawford, Team USA’s Patrick Kane, and Sweden’s Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Defending Champs Return for Chicago Marathon Wheelchair Race]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:10:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tatyana+McFadden.jpg

Bank of America Chicago Marathon champions Tatyana McFadden and Kurt Fearnley will return to compete for the No. 1 spot during the Oct. 9 marathon wheelchair race this year, the organization announced Thursday.

Marathon organizers say McFadden, a 17-time Abbott World Marathon Majors winner and six-time Chicago Marathon champion, and Fearnley, a three-time Paralympic gold medalist and five-time Chicago Marathon title holder, are among "the most internationally diverse and talented professional wheelchair fields in Chicago Marathon history."

“Tatyana has established herself as one of the best athletes in the history of sport," Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement, "and it is always an honor to have her compete in Chicago. Our spectators know they are watching a legend when they see her race."

McFadden won her fifth consecutive Chicago Marathon in the 2015 women’s wheelchair race, finishing with an unofficial time of 1 hour, 41 minutes and 10 seconds.

"The city really moved me today," she said after her big win. "I heard my name shouted across each mile. It's really exciting that Chicago knew my name."

She also plans to compete in six events and a marathon in the Rio Paralympic Games, her fifth Paralympic appearance.

Fearnley became a household name in Chicago after completing the three-peat from 2007-2009 and then adding two more victories in 2011 and 2015.

"Kurt has won more Chicago titles than any male athlete in our history," Pinkowski said. "He has speed and endurance, so if it’s coming down to a sprint finish, you can never count him out. But it will be a real challenge for Tatyana and Kurt to defend their titles with this year’s field.”

Fearnley finished the 2015 Chicago Marathon first with a time of 1:30:46.

"It's one of those races where the last 30 seconds you feel like you're about to vomit the whole way," he said after his win. "It's just everything you have."

Fearnley heads to Rio as Australian Paralympic captain for his fifth Paralympic Games with an eye on more gold.

But McFadden and Fearnley won't be alone in their quest for Chicago victory.

Women’s Field

McFadden’s eighth run through 29 dynamic Chicago neighborhoods will be strongly contested by Manuela Schär (SUI). McFadden and Schär are first and second, respectively, on the AbbottWMM leaderboard, with McFadden out front by 18 points.

Schär, the 2013 IPC World Championships marathon gold medalist and the official joint world record holder in the marathon, has emerged as McFadden’s main challenger. She finished second to McFadden in Chicago in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and kicked off her 2016 campaign with runner-up finishes to McFadden in Boston and London. She finished 2015 with the fastest time in the world, 1:40:56, and she owns multiple IPC and Paralympic medals. She is the European record holder in the 200m, 400m and 800m. Schar knows the Chicago course well, and she has the credentials to hand McFadden her first defeat in six years.

 Also in the mix – and ranked fourth and fifth on the AbbottWMM leaderboard – are University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alums Amanda McGrory and Susannah Scaroni.

McGrory and Scaroni boast strong histories in Chicago. McGrory is a three-time Chicago Marathon champion (2007, 2008, 2010). She was third in 2009 behind University of Illinois teammate, McFadden. In fact, the U of I duo has won every Chicago Marathon since 2007. McGrory started 2016 with a fourth place in Tokyo, a fifth in Boston and a fourth in London. Scaroni will line up in Chicago for the fifth time. Since her Chicago debut in 2011, she has collected wins in Los Angeles, Twin Cities and Duluth, and she has finished as high as fifth in the world at the IPC World Championships Marathon.

Sandra Graf (SUI), Chelsea McClammer (USA), Shirley Reilly (USA), Arielle Rausin (USA) and Katrina Gerhard (USA) are also returning to take a run at a podium finish.

Men’s Field

More than 20 of the world’s best professional wheelchair athletes should set the stage for another year of thrilling sprint finishes down Columbus Drive.

Fearnley was the runner-up in 2014 when 11 men finished within 11 seconds of each other. The same scenario played out last fall with Fearnley winning the contest as 11 men finished within 13 seconds of each other. Unlike the dominance of a few athletes on the women’s side, the men’s race remains wide open. Marcel Hug (SUI), Van Dyk and James Senbeta (USA), currently ranked first, third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the AbbottWMM leaderboard (Fearnley is second), will challenge for the title in Chicago.

Hug, nicknamed the “silver bullet,” started his racing season with a pair of victories in Boston and London, winning each race by just one second. Hug competed in his first Chicago Marathon last year, edging out 2014 champion Josh George for second place in a photo finish. He completed his 2015 season with a third place finish in New York behind Van Dyk and George. Hug is a two-time Paralympian with a marathon silver medal (Beijing 2008), and he is the 2013 IPC World Championships Marathon gold medalist. Like many athletes in this year’s field, he races distances from 400m to 42K.

Van Dyk won the 2013 Chicago Marathon in a sprint finish, and then returned in 2014 and 2015 to pursue another Chicago victory. In both instances, he was part of an 11-man dash down Columbus Drive, finishing third and fourth. Van Dyk is best known for capturing 10 wins in Boston, including six consecutive titles from 2001-2006. He made his global debut as a seventeen-year-old at the 1992 Paralympic Games, and he has competed in every Paralympic Games since 1992, including winning back-to-back gold medals in handcycling in 2008 and 2012.

James Senbeta is a relative newcomer to the international stage, and he is the most recent athlete to emerge from the highly esteemed University of Illinois Track and Road Racing Team. He started 2016 with a duo set of fifth place finishes in Boston and London, enough to put him into fifth place on the AbbottWMM leaderboard. Senbeta finished 13th in Chicago last fall, a little more than two minutes behind the lead pack. If the beginning of his 2016 crusade is any indication, he should be a factor in this year’s race.

Josh George (USA), a four-time Chicago Marathon champion, leads a strong contingent of challengers. Race day marks his tenth Chicago Marathon, and over the past 10 years, he has finished in the top three seven times.

The following athletes should also be in the hunt for the 2016 title: Gyudae Kim (KOR), Kota Hokinoue (JPN), Rafael Botello Jimenez (ESP), Jose Jimenez Hernandez (CRI), Simon Lawson (GBR), Denis Lemeunier (FRA), Laurens Molina (CRI) and Patrick Monahan (IRL).

For more information on the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon elite field, visit chicagomarathon.com/2016elites.

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<![CDATA[Twitter Pans Renaming of Cellular Field]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:39:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cellfield0824.JPG

Twitter users, as they're wont to do, were quick to dismiss the new name announced Wednesday for U.S. Cellular Field.

The stadium will become Guaranteed Rate Field on Nov. 1 as part of a new 13-year contract that the White Sox signed with the mortgage company, according to a statement released by the club.

From hypothesizing potential nicknames like "The G Spot," to lamenting the foreboding symbolism that is the logo of Guaranteed Rate, the ball field’s new namesake, the response has seemingly been mostly negative. 

Here are few choice tweets culled from the online reaction:

 

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The Chicago Cubs and the Bears even got in on the fun


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<![CDATA[LA Dubs 8/24 'Kobe Bryant Day']]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 07:53:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Day-8-24-LA.jpg

Will Kobe Bryant go into the Hall of Fame wearing the No. 8 or the No. 24?

Los Angeles City Council members decided not to pick one or the other and instead opted to honor Bryant's early years donning the no. 8 en route to three NBA titles and also the no. 24, which collected two NBA championships, simultaneously.

Wednesday, Aug. 24, which can be abbreviated as "8/24," will be "Kobe Bryant Day" in Los Angeles when Councilman Jose Huizar, Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Curren Price introduce a resolution at Wednesday's LA City Council meeting.

Bryant is having a busy week, as the 37-year-old rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, revealing a $100 million venture capital firm that bears his name.

Then, Tuesday, Aug. 23 is Bryant's 38th birthday.

On Wednesday, the "Black Mamba" will get a belated birthday present of sorts when he is honored by the City of Angels for his contributions on the court, as well as his philanthropic efforts off the court. Bryant has championed the fight against homelessness as well as the created a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need. Over the course of his public life, Bryant has been involved in numerous charitable causes and regularly volunteered to help "Make-a-Wish" for sick kids.

"Among his astonishing list of accomplishments, Kobe Bryant's 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers ranks him No. 1 all-time for NBA players who played for a single franchise, and 'Kobe Bryant Day' is the City of Los Angeles' way of thanking him for his single-minded dedication to excellence, the fans and the entire City and region of Los Angeles," Huizar said in a statement. "For 20 years, we were all the beneficiaries of Kobe's incredible talent and legendary work ethic, and on 8-24 we'll gather to say, 'Thank you, Mamba.'"

Bryant expects to be present at LA City Hall on Wednesday morning.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs, Bears Poke Fun at White Sox Stadium Name Change]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:25:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+sox.png

The Chicago White Sox announced they would be changing the name of their home ballpark to Guaranteed Rate Park on Wednesday, and the reaction on social media was swift.

With the adverse reaction to the new name, which will take effect beginning on Nov. 1, two of the White Sox's fellow Chicago teams weighed in with tweets poking fun at the baseball team.

Their neighbors to the north were first to join in on the fun, as the Chicago Cubs made a reference to it while celebrating a home run from their Wednesday game with the San Diego Padres:

A few minutes later, the Chicago Bears hopped on the bandwagon, taking a more direct shot at the White Sox:

There's no word on whether the Blackhawks or Bulls will join the fray, but at least fans won't have to worry about the United Center changing names for at least another 17 years.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Duncan Keith Drops Out of World Cup of Hockey]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 16:43:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Duncan+Keith.png

Chicago Blackhawks fans looking forward to next month’s World Cup of Hockey will be disappointed to learn that one of the team’s biggest stars will not be participating in the event.

That star is defenseman Duncan Keith, who has opted out of the tournament as he continues rehabbing a knee injury that he suffered last season.

“As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in the next month’s World Cup of Hockey,” Blackhawks head team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. "We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury."

According to a the Chicago Sun-Times, Keith will be replaced on the Canadian World Cup roster by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford will still represent Canada in the tournament, which will begin next month in Toronto.

Keith has made four appearances with Canadian national teams during his NHL career, winning Olympic gold with the squad in both 2010 and 2014 and also participating with the Canadian squad in the 2008 and 2012 World Championships. In 30 career games with the national team, Keith has one goal and 19 assists.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[White Sox to Rename US Cellular Field]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 22:47:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/us+cellular+field+GettyImages-520000826.jpg

Chicago White Sox fans will have a new corporate name attached to their home stadium next season, as the team has sold naming rights for their ballpark to Guaranteed Rate, the team announced Wednesday.

The stadium, currently known as U.S. Cellular Field, will become Guaranteed Rate Field on Nov. 1 as part of a new 13-year contract that the White Sox signed with the mortgage company, according to a statement released by the club.

"We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in the statement. 

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority approved the name change during a board meeting, the statement said. Financial terms of the deal between the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate were not disclosed.

The White Sox retained an option under the team’s lease for the ballpark, which could extend the deal an additional year through 2030.

"We are incredibly excited and honored to be part of the White Sox family," president & CEO of Guaranteed Rate Victor Ciardelli said. "It really is a dream come true to have the Guaranteed Rate name on a hometown Chicago ballpark."

"We love this city and its baseball fans, and couldn’t be happier to partner with an iconic team and a legendary owner in Jerry Reinsdorf," Ciardelli added. "We look forward to many great years of White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video: Jonathan Toews Gears Up for the Blackhawks' Season]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:55:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jonathan+toews+GettyImages-491739432.jpg

An extended offseason may not have been something that Chicago Blackhawks fans wanted this summer, but there is at least one member of the team that has taken full advantage of the extra time off.

That player is captain Jonathan Toews, who has taken the summer to work hard in the gym and on the ice in preparation for the coming season. Looking as strong as he ever has, Toews was on the ice this week getting ready for the World Cup of Hockey in September, and he’s showing a lot of power in his skating.

That power was on full display in an Instagram video that the captain posted on Wednesday:

The caption to the video reads “Now I know how Hoss (Marian Hossa) must have felt playing on the same line as me all these years.”

The Hawks are likely going to try to move Hossa down the lineup to the third line, where he would most likely skate with Marcus Kruger. As for what that means for Toews, things are unclear, but one thing is for certain: he’s looking to come into the new season firing on all cylinders, and he looks ready to do just that.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Back From Rio, Swimmer Jimmy Feigen Apologizes]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:58:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/feigen-lochte-conger-bentz.jpg

U.S. Olympic swimmer Jimmy Feigen on Tuesday made his first public comments about the incident in Rio de Janeiro last week that involved Feigen, Ryan Lochte and two of their teammates.

In a written statement provided to NBC News, Feigen admitted to initially leaving out details of an early morning incident at a Rio gas station, saying he omitted the facts to police in an attempt to help Lochte.

The Aug. 14 encounter was initially described by Lochte as an armed robbery by men posing as police officers, but the tale soon unraveled into an embarrassing controversy.

By the time a judge ordered Lochte and Feigen to remain in Brazil, Lochte had already left. Feigen eventually paid almost $11,000 to a sports foundation and was allowed to leave Brazil.

Feigen also said he was given an option to pay a fine rather than wait the month in Brazil for the investigation to conclude, but the amount first suggested was the equivalent of $31,250 and 15 days of community service.

When Feigen and his attorneys rejected that offer as unreasonable, the prosecutor increased the proposed fine to the equivalent of $46,875, he said. The smaller agreement was eventually reached.



Photo Credit: Getty Images - AP]]>
<![CDATA['Final Five' Set to Tour US]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 17:20:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16236682575231.jpg

The Final Five are taking New York City by storm. 

The gold medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics team visited the Empire State Building Tuesday morning as they begin a whirlwind media tour after their incredible accomplishments in Rio. 

Their Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions will officially start on Sept.15, in Spokane, Washington and end on Nov. 13 in Boston. They will visit 36 U.S. cities and showcase gymnasts from 2012 and 2016, according to Kellogg's.

Hometown hero and breakout star Laurie Hernandez, along with Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian took in the view of the city from 86 floors above the ground. And it provided another first for Old Bridge, New Jersey resident Hernandez: being able to take in the view from the observatory of the Empire State Building. It's all making for a surreal experience, she said. 

"I used to have someone pinch me beforehand just to make sure it wasn't a dream," Hernandez told NBC 4 New York. 

Biles called Hernandez a "perfect fit to the team" in Rio.

"She's always making all of us laugh," she told NBC 4. "I think she has a very similar personality to me. We roomed the whole time to Rio. We just love her to death." 

Since getting back Monday, Hernandez has been able to see her parents for a bit, and she's now looking forward to reuniting with her siblings.

In the meantime, the team is hoping to "rest and eat and chill," said Douglas, who was also on the 2012 Fierce Five.  

Raisman, also a two-time Olympian, said "it's been a blur" since the team arrived in New York and that the intense public focus and being followed by papparrazzi has been "crazy" and "surreal." 

"There's just so much, you just never expect it," she said. "Laurie lives like 45 minutes from here, I don't know if she's ever experienced the craziness of New York like this. I don't think any of the girls have right after the Olympics, except me and Gabby." 

"Everything has been go, go, go, we haven't had time to sit down and think about it," added Biles. 

One thing on top of the women's New York agenda? Finding some great pizza. 

"Gabby will probably find us the best pizza because she's gotten pizza multiple times here, so she's probably our best best," said Raisman. 

As for the native Hernandez's pick? 

"It's all pretty good!" she said diplomatically. 

The team will later appear Tuesday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[A Look at the Records Kris Bryant Set So Far This Season]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:59:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-591896292_master.jpg Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is one of baseball's best players, and he's made a great deal of history in just his second season.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Minnesota Wild to Use Prince Tune as New Goal Song]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:40:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-523341320.jpg

When world-famous musician Prince passed away earlier this year, the city of Minneapolis lost one of its greatest homegrown talents, but now the Minnesota Wild are prepared to honor his memory at home games this season.

That’s because the Wild are going to use the Prince tune “Let’s Go Crazy” as their new goal song this season. The song was chosen during a survey of the team’s season ticket-holders, and the organization made the decision official on Tuesday.

“Our in-arena experience is designed for the fans, so it’s great to be able to show them we take their feedback to heart,” said John Maher, VP of brand, content, and communications for the Wild. “At the same time, it’s our privilege to celebrate an iconic hometown artists that clearly has had an incredible impact on our community and the world.”

The Wild will also host a tribute to Prince at their booth for the Minnesota State Fair later this week, according to a press release by the team.

During the 2016 playoffs, the Wild used rally towels on the backs of seats to construct a tribute to the legendary musician:

Previous to “Let’s Go Crazy,” the Wild used the tune “Crowd Chant” Joe Satriani as their goal song.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[MLB Announces 2016 Postseason Schedule]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:51:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/168*120/GettyImages-591881986.jpg

When it comes to watching sports, having time to plan your schedule is key, and MLB has helpfully obliged as they’ve released their full postseason schedule.

Chicago Cubs fans will want to circle Friday, Oct. 7, on their calendars, as that is the date that both National League Division Series will get started. Both series will run through Oct. 13 at the latest, with the best-of-five series determining which teams will get into the League Championship Series.

The NLCS will kick off on Oct. 15, with the best-of-seven series running through Oct. 23 if necessary.

Finally, the World Series, the one that all Cubs fans will be hoping their team can reach for the first time since 1945, will start on Oct. 25 in an American League city. The first World Series game that could take place at Wrigley Field would take place on Oct. 28.

If the Chicago White Sox can pull off a miracle and reach the postseason (they are currently 13 games out of the American League Central lead and eight and a half games out of the second AL wild card spot), their road would likely begin on Oct. 4, with the AL Wild Card game. The ALDS kicks off on Oct. 6, with the ALCS then beginning on Oct. 14.

Here is the full list of games:

Tues., Oct. 4: AL Wild Card Game, TBS

Wed, Oct. 5: NL Wild Card Game, ESPN

League Division Series

Thurs, Oct. 6: ALDS A, Game 1

ALDS B, Game 1

Fri, Oct. 7: ALDS A, Game 2

ALDS B, Game 2

NLDS A, Game 1

NLDS B, Game 1

Sat, Oct. 8: NLDS A, Game 2

NLDS B, Game 2

Sun, Oct. 9: ALDS A, Game 3

ALDS B, Game 3

Mon, Oct. 10: ALDS A, Game 4*

ALDS B, Game 4*

NLDS A, Game 3

NLDS B, Game 3

Tues, Oct. 11: NLDS A, Game 4*

NLDS B, Game 4*

Wed, Oct. 12: ALDS A, Game 5*

ALDS B, Game 5*

Thurs, Oct. 13: NLDS A, Game 5*

NLDS B, Game 5*

League Championship Series

Fri, Oct. 14: ALCS Game 1

Sat, Oct. 15: ALCS Game 2

NLCS Game 1

Sun, Oct. 16: NLCS Game 2

Mon, Oct. 17: ALCS Game 3

Tues, Oct. 18: ALCS Game 4

NLCS Game 3

Wed, Oct. 19: ALCS*

NLCS Game 4

Thurs, Oct. 20: NLCS Game 5*

Fri, Oct. 21: ALCS Game 6*

Sat, Oct. 22: ALCS Game 7*

NLCS Game 6*

Sun, Oct. 23: NLCS Game 7*

World Series

Tues, Oct. 25: Game 1, AL City

Wed, Oct. 26: Game 2, AL City

Fri, Oct. 28: Game 3, NL City

Sat, Oct. 29: Game 4, NL City

Sun, Oct. 30: Game 5, NL City*

Tues, Nov. 1: Game 6, AL City*

Wed, Nov. 2: Game 7, AL City*

All American League playoff games will be televised on TBS, while the National League will be split between Fox Sports 1, Fox, and MLB Network. The World Series will be televised on Fox.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Marathon Announces 2016 Elite Runners]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 10:04:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/GettyImages-457314314.jpg

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has traditionally brought some of the world’s best marathoners to the streets of Chicago, and this year will be no different.

Marathon officials have announced that current marathon world record holder and 2013 Chicago champion Dennis Kimetto of Kenya will join 2015 Chicago Marathon champion and fellow Kenyan Florence Kiplagat as they race for the crown at the 39th annual event in October.

The event will feature five past champions, the most returning champions to toe the line in the same race in event history, according to organizers. Joining Kimetto in the men’s elite field are 2015 marathon champion Dickson Chumba, 2012 winner Tsegaye Kebede, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Micah Kogo and debut marathoner and 8K world record holder Stephen Sambu. Racing Kiplagat in the women’s elite field are Boston Marathon champion Atsede Baysa and Chicago newcomers Valentine Kipketer and Gulume Chala.

“Dickson, Tsegaye and Atsede have run their fastest career marathons in Chicago, and both Tsegaye and Dennis have experienced the thrill of breaking our course record,” Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “To have so many past champions in one competition is thrilling. And there is depth on the American side as well; without pacesetters, we could see a new champion emerge from this talented field.” 

The Chicago Marathon steps off Oct. 9 and takes runners through 29 neighborhoods in the city. Last year, an estimated 1.7 million spectators lined the streets to cheer on more than 37,400 runners. 

Men’s Elite Field

Kimetto became the first runner in history to cover each 5K segment under in 14:50 and made history at the 2014 Berlin Marathon when he became the first person to run in under two hours and three minutes, setting a world record.

He will be challenged by Chumba, who will look to defend his 2015 title. Chumba first gained global recognition in 2014 with a win and course record at the Tokyo Marathon. He finished third place at the 2014 Chicago Marathon in his current personal record of 2:04:32. He went on to win in 2015.

Kebede, a 2008 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, is one of the most accomplished marathon runners of the last decade, marathon organizers said. He has finished in the top 10 of 15 Abbott World Marathon Majors races since 2009, including three victories, three runner-up finishes and five third place finishes. His last run in Chicago four years ago ended with him setting a personal and course record, though that course record was later broken by Kimetto.

Kogo has not yet won a marathon, but he did win an Olympic bronze medal in the 10,000m. He also has a track personal record of 26:35.63, making him the sixth fastest man in history at the distance. He's hoping to claim his first marathon victory in Chicago. 

Sambu has won both the 2015 and 2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, but he will be making his marathon debut in the Windy City this year. He brings with him world record 8k and 10,000m speed.

Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer and American Luke Puskedra, of Oregon, plan to also seek their place at the podium in Chicago. Kipketer has won the 2016 Mumbai Marathon and Puskedra set a personal record in last year’s Chicago Marathon, becoming the sixth American in the last two decades to finish in the top five in the event.

Japanese contenders include Koji Gokaya, Takuya Fukatsu, Kazuya Ishida and Ryoichi Matsuo. The four will be looking to run their way to a top finish in this year’s race.

Other Americans in the elite field include Nick Arciniaga and Diego Estrada of Arizona and Tim Young of Virginia.

Women’s Elite Field

Kiplagat, the current world record holder in the half marathon, will also return to Chicago to defend her 2015 title. She is the current world record holder in the half marathon and 2011 and 2013 Berlin Marathon champion.

Baysa, who will line up in Chicago for the fourth time, has more Chicago victories on her resume than her Kenyan rival with victories in the 2010 and 2012 marathons. The reigning champion at the Boston Marathon and also claimed the crown twice at the Paris Marathon and in Istanbul, Xiamen and Saitama.

Valentine Kipketer, who will be making her Chicago Marathon debut, was among the top contenders in the 2016 Boston Marathon but finished fifth in the race after Baysa hard charged the finish line in one of the biggest come-from-behind victories in history, the marathon said. She started her career in 20088 but took a maternity break before returning to the roads in 2015. She’s claimed victories previously in Amsterdam and Mumbai.

Chala will be making her first appearance in an AWMM event after competing in the 42K distance for four years. She has run 12 marathons within those four years and will look to be a top contender as she competed among the best athletes on the global stage.

American Serena Burla, of Virginia, is a two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon trials qualifier and was the 2014 U.S. Half Marathon champion. She will be joined by six-time Chicago Marathon veteran and Chicago native Tera Moody, who made a comeback at the 2015 race after a struggle with injuries. Sarah Crouch, of North Carolina will also return for her third event after a huge breakthrough in Chicago in 2014, taking 12 minutes from her personal record to finish in the top 10.

Two-time Danish Olympian Jessica Draskau Petersson, 2016 Polish champ Angieszka Mierzejewska and 2012 British Olympian Freya Ross will also join the women’s field. Mierzejewska, like Chala, will be racing in her first Abbott World Marathon Majors event and has finished in the top three of all six marathons she has run so far. Ross, who is coached by 1984 and1985 Chicago Marathon champion Steve Jones, will make her return after a broken hip sidelined her plans in 2014 and 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raisman Says Yes to Date]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 11:46:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WEB+RAW+UNDERWOOD+ASKING+ALY+FB+-+00001703.jpg

Aly Raisman caught the attention of many with her incredible performance at the Rio Olympics, especially Oakland Raiders tight end Colton Underwood, who hopes to snag a date with the gymnast the next time she’s in San Jose.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Raisman watched a recorded video of Underwood congratulating her hard work at the Olympics, and took the opportunity to ask her out on a double date with long snapper Andrew East the next time she’s in San Jose.

East also happens to be married to 2008 gold medalist Shawn Johnson, Raisman’s friend.

Raisman giggled and said she would go out with him.

In September, Raisman and the Final Five team will be in San Jose for their champions tour. Maybe Underwood will make an appearance and snag Raisman for that date.

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<![CDATA[Nike's Gold Medal Newborn Giveaway]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 16:27:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Elena+Delle+Donne+Baby+Nikes+Medal.jpg

One of Delaware's most famous athletes took home gold at the Rio Olympics and that means each baby born Saturday in her hometown hospital is taking home a pair of sweet sneakers.

WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the U.S. basketball team took home gold in dominating fashion Saturday – beating Spain by 29 points — and in honor of that big win, the parents of every child born at Christiana Hospital in New Castle County, Delaware, on the gold medal day got a special gift Sunday.

The bright green Nike kicks — with an orange swoosh — came with a special notice mentioning Delle Donne being born in the same hospital on Sept. 5, 1989.  It just so happens that Delle Donne is a spokeswoman for the hospital as well as Nike.

"It all starts now. 26 years ago, it started in Wilmington for a little champ just like you," read the message. "And today, Elena Delle Donne conquered the world. Maybe, someday, that could be you. Or maybe you’ll choose to do something else. There really are no limits to your potential. Whatever you decide, get up. Get out. And get started. Life moves fast. And in these, it will move a little faster. Just do it. Unlimited future."

The hospital, which says it delivers more than 6,000 babies each year, said it gave out around three dozens pairs of sneakers. Other hospitals in other athletes' hometowns, including Delle Donne's teammate Brittney Griner's birthplace, also had similar Nike promotions.

The hospital said it's "#DelawareProud" and can't wait to see what this next generation of Delawareans accomplish.

No word yet if any of the newborns have a jump shot.



Photo Credit: NBC10 - Tim Furlong/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Centrowitz Win Draws Comparisons to Cubs' Title Hopes]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:51:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/GettyImages-592606830.jpg

An athlete from the United States winning a gold medal is always a big deal, but in the case of distance runner Matthew Centrowitz, Saturday’s victory in the 1500 meters is even more special.

That’s because the victory for Centrowitz is the first by an American runner in the race since the 1908 Olympic Games. Of course, Chicago sports fans know the year 1908 for completely different reasons, since it was the last time that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Naturally, fans began to bombard the Cubs’ Twitter account with positive messages about Centrowitz’s victory, saying that his win indicates that the Cubs are going to win a title this season:

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Ever responsive to their fans on Twitter, the Cubs naturally were fans of the outpouring of support:

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The Cubs ended up winning 99 games in that 1908 season before beating the Detroit Tigers for their last World Series title. To match that win total, the Cubs would need to win 22 of their remaining 41 games this season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cubs Playoff Watch: Bryant, Montero Hammer Rockies]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:17:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-593256086.jpg

Welcome to Cubs Playoff Watch, your daily look at the Chicago Cubs as they continue to push toward their first division title since the 2008 season.

Cubs’ Magic Number: 28

After failing to gain any ground in the division on Friday night thanks to their loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs brought the big bats to Coors Field on Saturday, shellacking the Rockies 9-2 in support of a strong start by Mike Montgomery.

Miguel Montero had three RBI in the game, and Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist each hit home runs for the Cubs as they continued their stellar play of late. Montgomery and Trevor Cahill combined to allow just two runs over nine innings of work as they filled in for the injured John Lackey in the game.

Fortunately for the Cubs, both of the teams chasing them in the National League Central race lost on Saturday night. The St. Louis Cardinals, one night after coming from behind to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, lost 4-2 in the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday, and the Pittsburgh Pirates also lost, falling 3-1 to the Miami Marlins.

The losses leave the Cubs with a 13-game lead in the Central.

Magic Number to Clinch Home Field: 36

The Cubs have been waiting patiently for some help from the Atlanta Braves, but it has not been forthcoming as the Washington Nationals won 11-9 on Saturday night and only allowed the Cubs to trim a single digit off of their magic number in the race for home-field advantage in the National League.

What’s Next:

The Cubs will finish off their series with the Rockies on Sunday afternoon in Denver before preparing to fly to San Diego for a three-game set against the Padres at Petco Park. The Cubs will send red-hot hurler Jason Hammel to the mound for the series finale, which starts at 3:10pm Central time.

The Cardinals will be looking for a win as they wrap up their road trip against the Phillies on Sunday, with Mike Leake toeing the rubber for the Redbirds. They’ll then have a day off Monday before beginning a series against the New York Mets on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

The Pirates will also be looking for a series win on Sunday as they finish off their series with the Marlins. Ryan Vogelsong will pitch for Pittsburgh as they look to gain a game on the Marlins in the wild card race. On Monday, the Pirates will welcome the Houston Astros to PNC Park for a three-game interleague showdown.

Finally, the Nationals will look for a four-game sweep of the Braves at Turner Field on Sunday, with Gio Gonzalez on the hill. A four-game, two-city series with the Baltimore Orioles is on deck for the Nationals, who have won three straight and six of their last eight games overall.

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<![CDATA[Think You Remember the Rio Olympics? Take the Quiz]]> Sun, 21 Aug 2016 21:16:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/michael-phelps-200m-im-web-aptopix-rio-olympics-_webf-5.jpg

For 17 days in August, athletes from around the world competed in Rio de Janeiro for the ultimate prize in sports: an Olympic gold medal.

You probably didn't win gold yourself, but you can try to get the next best thing by acing our Olympics quiz.



Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Very Premature Look at the 2018 Winter Olympics]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 08:14:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mikGettyImages-516484680.jpg

The Rio Olympics just ended and it's summer, so is it too soon to think about the Winter Olympics? Of course not!

Here's a look at the United States and its prospects for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The opening ceremony is just 536 days away.

FIGURE SKATING

The USA’s strongest competitors in Sochi were the ice-dancing duos of Charlie White and Meryl Davis, and the brother-sister pairing of Alex and Maia Shibutani — known as the Shib Sibs.

Davis and White have not said for sure they’ll return to defend their gold medals in Pyeongchang, but they've kept sharp. Meanwhile, the Shib Sibs got a silver medal at world championships in 2016 and fellow Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates got bronze there.

In the individual events, the USA will be trying to get back on the podium. Ashley Wagner ended a 10-year drought for women at worlds and Olympics when she won silver at 2016 worlds in Boston.

ALPINE SKIING

Lindsey Vonn missed the Sochi Games but has already been to Pyeongchang to check out the ski runs. She could be looking to end her storied career on a positive note at the Olympics in 2018.

Mikaela Shiffrin, meanwhile, has been up her usual dominating ways in the slalom — she won all five World Cup races she entered this season. But a knee injury caused her to miss plenty of races, too. If she’s healthy for Pyeongchang she could be one of the Games’ biggest stars. On the men’s side, Ted Ligety was the only American to win a race in the World Cup, though Andrew Weibrecht and Steven Nyman also found the podium. 

ICE HOCKEY

The shape of this tournament will be largely determined by whether the National Hockey League continues to release players. If it does, Canada will be expected to win the gold medal for a third straight Olympics.

Other contenders will be Sweden, Russia and the United States. Finland is coming off a gold medal at the world junior championships and has some of the best goaltenders in the NHL. If the NHL declines to participate, the medal chances of the North American teams go down, to the benefit of Sweden, Russia and Finland.

In the women’s tournament, the USA and Canada will be the teams to beat. Canada will be aiming for a fifth straight Olympic gold medal, while the U.S. also has made the podium every time since 1998. 

SPEED SKATING

The USA almost has to do better in these events in South Korea, if only because Sochi was such a fiasco — no Americans medaled for the first time in 30 years. That said, Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson Bergsma are coming off excellent World Cup seasons, while Joey Mantia set personal bests at three distances in the fall.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

The USA continues to slowly improve in the nordic disciplines. Kikkan Randall has been the face of the team for years, but in January, Sophie Caldwell won a World Cup sprint event, joining Randall as the only American women to win a race on the circuit. 

OTHER SPORTS

Unlike the speed skaters, the American sliding sporst athletes had a bumper crop of seven medals in Sochi in bobsled, skeleton and even luge. Elana Meyers Taylor improved on her Vancouver bronze with a silver in two-woman bobsled. She also just won bronze at the 2016 world championships. … Snowboarders get another chance at a medal since the addition of Big Air as a discipline. Shaun White flamed out in Sochi but says he plans to come back and compete in 2018 … American 22-year-old Ashley Caldwell joined 2014 silver medalist Devin Logan as a force to be reckoned with in freestyle skiing this season.

— Denis P. Gorman contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trailblazers, Record-Setters and More: Rio's Top Moments]]> Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:27:24 -0500 first Olympic soccer gold and a rematch for the two countries, which faced each other in the 2014 World Cup. Two years ago, Germany won 7-1.]]> first Olympic soccer gold and a rematch for the two countries, which faced each other in the 2014 World Cup. Two years ago, Germany won 7-1.]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-592597200.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Simone Selfies Dominate Rio Closing Ceremony]]> Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:05:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16235012101506.jpg

Being the flag bearer in the Closing Ceremony has its privileges. But it also makes you stick out in the crowd.

Simone Biles knows this firsthand after carrying the American flag during the Rio finale Sunday night. While it was an honor to carry the flag, it also meant that selfie seekers could track her down pretty easily.

Many fellow Olympians wanted to take a picture with Biles after her outstanding gymnastics performance during the 2016 Olympics. Seems like she won over as many fans outside of the U.S. as she did stateside.

Here's a sampling of the pictures that showed up on social media:

And while Biles dominated the selfie lines, don't count out our little Tongan friend:



Photo Credit: AP
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