Olympic swimming champ Evans recalls 'inspiration' Ali

Los Angeles: Janet Evans, the athlete who passed the Olympic torch to Muhammad Ali in the 1996 Atlanta Games, has mourned the death of the legendary boxer. "Muhammad Ali was truly the greatest -- an athlete who transcended sports to become a global icon," four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Evans was quoted as saying by Xinhua on Friday. "He inspired me, and millions of others around the world, to be the best version of ourselves. Passing the Olympic torch to Muhammad to light the cauldron at the Atlanta Games in 1996 was the defining moment of my career, and a memory I will treasure forever, as much as any of the medals I won." The 74-year-old sports icon, who had battled Parkinson's disease for decades, died Friday in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. "As Olympians, our role is to inspire others to achieve their dreams, and no person has ever lived that role more than Muhammad Ali," said Evans, vice chair of the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid. "On behalf of all of us at LA 2024, we offer our deepest condolences to Muhammad's family and friends. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will forever endure."