The biggest threat to morale for Team USA at Sochi this year is ... a SWEATER -- this according to several American athletes who tell TMZ Sports their Olympics outfits are straight up ugly.
Ralph Lauren just revealed the U.S. opening ceremony outfits the other day ... and the jocks we spoke to tell us there's a buzz in the Olympic community about how unattractive they are.
"Initially, the reaction was 'Are we REALLY wearing that?" ... one Team USA athlete told us.
Another reaction -- "HAHAHAHAHA, oh man ..."
Another Olympian was more optimistic -- saying, "Maybe people will see us wearing the sweaters and they'll become a trend. Or maybe they'll be worn at ugly sweater parties."
One thing's for sure -- the design isn't turning off fans. The online team store is SOLD OUT of the sweaters … which cost a cool $595-a-pop.
We DON'T Hate Her Guts
... Bobsled Teammate Says
1/24/2014 10:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Lolo Jones DESERVED her spot on the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team ... despite the rantings of some bitter bobsledders who didn't make the squad ... so says the bobsled PILOT for Team USA.
TMZ Sports spoke with Jazmine Fenlator who tells us ... the team considers itself a "wolf pack" ... and Jones is an INTEGRAL part.
"The Olympic team has developed a bond," Fenlator says ... "We have each other’s backs."
Jones has been under fire from several bobsledders who didn't make the team -- who claim Lolo was only selected due to her celebrity status.
But Fenlator thinks those people are just haters ... and haters gonna hate.
As for Lolo, Fenlator says she's been working her ass off -- "We have great chemistry together… don’t know how the team would do without her."
Russia Loves Elton John
... Even Though He's Gay
1/19/2014 7:50 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Elton John is HUGE in Russia ... so gay people should feel totally welcome at the Olympics -- this according to President Vladimir Putin, who's trying like Hell to prove his country doesn't hate homosexuals.
Putin reiterated Russia would not discriminate against gay and lesbian athletes or visitors during the upcoming Sochi Olympics while speaking with the foreign press Sunday morning.
Putin used Elton as an example, calling him an "outstanding person (and) musician" -- and adding, "Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation."
For what it's worth ... Elton spoke out against the country's "gay propaganda law" last month during a concert in Moscow saying, "In my opinion, it is inhumane and isolating."
Can you feel the love tonight?
Olympic Performances Aren't a Big Deal
Super Bowl is Where It's At
1/11/2014 12:29 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Lionel Richie says his performance at the 1984 Olympics was awesome ... but these days Sochi is no match for the Super Bowl
Richie was strutting out of LAX Friday night when he told us his '84 closing ceremony number was huge at the time ... but now the Super Bowl has more eyes than the world games.
His logic is pretty compelling. Check it out.
Olympic Hurdler Lashinda Demus
My Husband Strangled Me,
Threatened to Kill Me
10/3/2013 2:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Olympic hurdler Lashinda Demus -- who won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics -- says her husband tried to strangle her and threatened to kill her ... and she's now desperate for protection ... TMZ has learned.
Demus just got a temporary restraining order against her husband, Jamel Mayrant -- who was arrested and jailed a couple of weeks ago for domestic violence. She claims the attack left her with bruises and a lump on her head.
The restraining order also protects their twin 6-year-old boys and her parents -- because she claims he threatened all of them as well.
Demus also claims her husband is trashing her and damaging her career, saying in court docs, "I'm a professional athlete ... so I need no derogatory emails, pictures, texts, phone calls released about me on the web or to other people."
The restraining order requires Jamel to stay 100 yards away from Lashinda, the kids and her parents.
USA Wrestling Legend
Wrestling's Back in Olympics!
9/8/2013 11:53 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The International Olympic Committee just announced wrestling WON'T be axed from the 2020 Tokyo Games after all ... and one of the biggest stars in the sport couldn't be more thrilled.
TMZ spoke with Rulon Gardner -- former "Biggest Loser" contestant and gold medal winner at the 2000 Sydney Games -- who tells us the IOC's ruling made his day.
Rulon says he still can't believe the sport was ever on the chopping block to begin with ... but he's pumped "wrestling will showcase it's greatness to the world once again."
As for the other sports nixed from the 2020 Games, like squash, they're still out ... because no one cares about squash.
Seriously, who plays squash?
Bruce Jenner to Mike Phelps:
HANG UP THE SPEEDO
'Quit While You're Ahead'
8/14/2013 8:13 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
With rumors of a Michael Phelps comeback, there's one American who thinks MP should STAY OUT of the pool when the 2016 Olympics roll around -- Bruce Jenner.
Phelps announced he "retired" from swimming after dominating at the 2012 games ... but lately, there have been rumblings that he's considering re-shaving his body hair for a dramatic Olympic comeback.
But not everyone's fired up about the idea ... especially Jenner, who knows a little something about what it takes to compete at the Olympic level -- 'cause before he played second fiddle to the Kardashians, he won gold in the decathlon in 1976.
"He's done," Jenner told us in Calabasas yesterday ... "Quit while you're ahead."
For the record, Phelps is only 28 ... and still in incredible shape.
Think Bruce has a point?
I'd Kick Ass at Snowboarding, Too
8/12/2013 10:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Call her Kanye West ... 'cause Gabby Douglas is continuing to SMASH racial stereotypes like they were TMZ cameras.
The 17-year-old Olympic sweetheart -- the FIRST black woman to win gold in the individual all-around -- was at LAX this weekend when we asked ... is there ANOTHER sport she would dominate if she didn't become a world class gymnast.
Her answer -- snowboarding ... a sport that's almost as white as the mountains they shred.
Next up ... hockey? Lacrosse? Polo? Line dancing?
'Everyone Pees In the Pool'
8/7/2013 6:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Michael Phelps is a pool pee-er ... but don't worry, the world's greatest athlete insists there's NOTHING wrong with draining your bladder during a swim.
The Olympic legend was leaving Mastros in Beverly Hills last night when we asked if nature ever called during one of his races ... and the guy couldn't have been more honest.
But when we asked about rumors that he's coming out of retirement to swim at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Mr. Phelps was much less forthcoming.
There's some information you just can't afford to leak ...
Shreds Guitars Too!!
Rock Band Jams in DC
7/31/2013 7:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
It's official, Shaun White dominates everything he touches -- snowboards, skateboards, surfboards, and now electric guitars ... and we got video proof last night.
If you haven't heard ... Shaun plays lead guitar in a band called Bad Things -- and last night their summer tour stopped at DC9 in Washington, DC.
The Olympic gold medalist had a Gibson Les Paul sunburst ax slung over his shoulder during the gig ... and while he's not Slash or Stevie Ray Vaughan just yet ... dude ripped off a decent solo.
Next up for Shaun -- the World Cup of Pottery!
What? You know he could.
Olympic Champ Tyler Clary
Declines White House Invite
... I'd Rather Race Cars
9/12/2012 12:10 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary -- the guy who smashed Ryan Lochte's backstroke record -- turned down an invite to chill with President Obama at the White House ... all so he can race stock cars instead.
But sources tell TMZ ... the swimmer has dreams of being a pro race car driver after his swimming career ends ... he's opting to be in Fontana, CA instead to test drive cars for a few days and then hit up the MAVTV 500 IndyCar event on September 15.
We're told Clary is serious about his future racing career ... he's already been courted by several IndyCar and NASCAR teams and sponsors since returning from London.
225 mph or rub elbows with the most powerful guy on the planet ... tough call?
U.S. Olympic Runner
Runs 5-Minute Mile ...
While Chugging Beers
8/23/2012 12:50 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
U.S. Olympic track star Nick Symmonds just ran a mile in 5:19 ... which isn't very impressive ... until you realize he chugged 4 BEERS along the way.
Symmonds was gunning for the world record in something called the "Beer Mile" ... which requires athletes to chug an entire "full-sized" brewski at the beginning of the race ... and another full can of suds at every quarter-mile mark along the way.
28-year-old Symmonds -- who finished 5th in the 800m race at the Olympics in London -- was hoping to break the world record, 5:09, set by Canadian marathon legend Jim Finlayson.
So, Tuesday in Oregon ... armed with a case of Coors ... Nick chased after the record, with a crowd of friends cheering on along the way ... but despite his best effort, Symmonds came up 6 seconds short.
Still, Nick tells TMZ he won't give up his dream ... and plans to continue his training in hopes of winning the title some time in the near future.
My Dumb Catchphrase ... JEAH!!!
8/17/2012 5:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Ryan Lochte's annoying catchphrase "Jeah!" is a friggin' GOLD MINE -- at least that's what the swimmer believes ... because he just filed docs to lock up a trademark for the made-up word.
According to the trademark docs, Ryan wants to use the word on sunglasses, workout DVDs, gift cards, mugs, drinking glasses, trading cards, calendars, posters, swimsuits, swim caps, sports hats, and water bottles.
In fact, Lochte's already getting the party started on his website -- selling "Jeah"-themed tees, hats, and sunglasses.
According to a 2009 interview, Ryan got the phrase from rapper Young Jeezy, who uses a similar word "Chea!" in his songs. Ryan says he changed it a little to "Jeah!" ... and says it means something "good." (skip to 1:00)
The trademark app is still pending.