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A Lot Of Northwest Olympians To Skip Opening Ceremony In Rio

Daniel Basil
Wikimedia -
File photo of Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "

Flashy Brazilian music and dance is likely to light up your TV screen Friday night when the Olympic cauldron is lit to officially launch the Summer Games. But a lot of the Olympic athletes from the Northwest are skipping the Opening Ceremony in Rio.

Ben Blankenship of Eugene and Matthew Centrowitz, who are both running the 1500 meters in Rio, are waiting in Oregon rather than marching in the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Centrowitz noted the track and field competition doesn't start for another week in Brazil.

"The 1500 is the last event and so I don't want to be down there for too long,” Centrowitz said. “I did the Opening Ceremonies in London -- so kinda like a 'I've been there, done that' kind of thing. Now I'm just working on racing."

"For training and really to set up well in Rio, I felt the best thing for me to accomplish my job was to go in late," Blankenship added.

Nike Oregon Project runner Shannon Rowbury said last week she too will depart Portland too late to make the Opening Ceremony. Another Beaverton-based runner, 5000-meter specialist Paul Chelimo, plans to leave for Brazil on Sunday.

The six women's soccer players on Team USA from the Seattle Reign and Portland Thorns club teams will miss the Opening Ceremony because they are scheduled to play France the next day at a stadium in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

By contrast, first time Olympian Devon Allen flew down in time to make the Opening Ceremony. The 110-meter hurdler from the University of Oregon said he wouldn't miss it.

"I'm excited,” Allen said. “It's something you watch on TV and I'm going to be in it. So it's pretty cool."

Other Northwest Olympians you can try to pick out of the Parade of Nations crowd include decathlon medal favorite Ashton Eaton of Eugene and dual-national Alexi Pappas, a 10,000-meter qualifier from Eugene who'll be in the Greek delegation.

Swimmer Michael Phelps was chosen by his teammates to lead Team USA into the stadium as flagbearer.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.