Kiraly takes over women’s U.S. volleyball team

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Karch Kiraly, one of the most decorated volleyball players in history – both indoor and beach – has been chosen to take over the U.S. women’s team and will spend the next four years preparing to avenge back-to-back gold medal game losses to Brazil, which will have home court in 2016.

“We hope to continue that wonderful momentum that went right on through a really tremendous Olympic Games,” Kiraly said earlier this week. “A tremendous tournament that ended on a bit of a down note losing in the gold medal match, but a great accomplishment. Two silver medals in a row now for the USA women, a hallmark of consistency. And I hope to continue that.”

If you’ve never heard of Kiraly here’s a quick bio: he won three NCAA national championships at UCLA between 1979 and ’82, losing only five matches in his college career. He then won indoor Olympic gold in 1984 and again as a captain in 1988, then decided to try his hand at beach, won the first men’s beach gold in 1996, and ended his career in 2007 with 148 world tour victories – still the most all time. He was also named the world’s best indoor player twice and AVP beach player of the year six times.

All that to say: he’s pretty good at what he does and we’re lucky to have him on our side. Here’s hoping he can finally figure out a way to help the U.S. women get past Brazil and turn silver to gold in Rio.

Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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