Friday will be a big day for several of the Carolinians at the Olympics.
The one who will likely draw the most TV coverage is diver Abby Johnston, who competes in the preliminaries of the women's 3-meter springboard (2:30 p.m. Eastern).
This will be the final event of Johnston’s career. She says she will hang up the suit for good and put on the white coat after this one, as she begins her third year at Duke's medical school as soon as the Olympics end. Johnston won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in synchronized diving in London, but she will compete as an individual this time. She plans a specialty in emergency medicine.
"I like that’s it always different and you don’t know what’s going to come through the door," Johnston said of being an emergency-room physician. "I also like the fact that it’s a high-pressure situation, which I guess is pretty similar to what I’ve been facing all along in my athletic career."
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TAVIS THROWS: Six hours before Johnston starts diving, Kannapolis discus thrower Tavis Bailey will make his Olympic debut Friday morning (8:30 a.m. Eastern). Bailey was a former star offensive lineman at A.L. Brown before he became a world-class discus thrower while at the University of Tennessee. If Bailey qualifies for the final -- no sure thing in a crowded field -- he will throw again in the discus final on Saturday.
RAVEN TIME: Also on Friday, Raven Saunders from Charlestonwill compete in the women's shot put for the U.S. Saunders, 20, now attends Ole Miss and has won an individual NCAA title there. The women's shot put is contested in one day, with the preliminary throws in the morning and the final on Friday night.
NO MEDAL FOR PADDLERS: Casey Eichfeld and Michal Smolen, the two Olympic paddlers who live in North Carolina and have trained at the U.S. National Whitewater Center for years, won't come home with a medal.
Eichfeld and his canoeing partner Devin McEwan finished 10th in the double canoe competition Thursday. Smolen had earlier failed to reach the final in the men's kayak competition -- he finished 12th -- and Eichfeld was seventh in the individual canoe (C1).
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: Every time I watch the U.S. men's team beat someone else in the Olympics, I can't help remembering the 2012 draft.
In that one, the Charlotte Bobcats picked Jeff Taylor at No. 31. Golden State picked Draymond Green at No. 35. Strictly from a basketball standpoint, can you imagine how different the now-Hornets would be if they had Green instead of Taylor?
That was also the draft, of course, in which the Bobcats had the best chance in the NBA lottery of obtaining the No. 1 pick and Anthony Davis but instead ended up with the No. 2 pick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.