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The next U.S. Olympic city: Chicago?

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This post starts a series that will look at which U.S. cities would be perfect hosts for the Olympics.

Chicago was actually supposed to host the 1904 Olympics, but back then the World’s Fair was so powerful that organizers forced Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin to move the Games to St. Louis to coincide with their event. The city was snubbed again 105 years later when it finished fourth in its bid to host the 2016 Games, despite being a heavy favorite. It  probably had more to do with the U.S. having hosted eight Olympics, as opposed to Latin America’s zero, but Chicago remains arguably the perfect city to host the Summer Games.

Infrastructure: Chicago has two airports, a decent-to-good public transit system, and enough hotels to house anyone and everyone interested in attending. Its seven major professional sports franchises (yes, we include the WNBA’s Chicago Sky) and numerous colleges mean there are enough established venues to host basketball, soccer, gymnastics, handball, and pretty much anything else.

Sports culture: Chicago is a city full of people who love sports, even if their most adored team recently passed the 100 year threshold of failure and its fans believe this has more to do with a goat than just being terrible at baseball. But, rain or shine, they support the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox, and would provide an incredible atmosphere for American and international Olympians.

Weather: While Chicago’s eight-month winters are brutal beyond words (and single-handedly the reason we don’t live there), the weather borders on unbeatable from June through September (second only to San Diego). Thankfully those are the exact months the Summer Olympics occur. You might have some humidity and a bad cold-front now and again, but that’s true anywhere.

Nightlife: Chicago has everything you’re looking for when it comes to going out on the town, with a nightlife concentrated to a couple great areas. You can find excellent restaurants, clubs, and bars downtown, or you can head to Wrigleyville, which is one of the best spots in the country for bar crawling and late night gorging. Also, the spinach deep dish at Gino’s East is the best pizza on the planet.

Biggest drawback: Where do you put Olympic Park? No seriously, look at a map of the city and tell us where you put the Park, the Athletes Village, the stadium… I’m very interested.

Intangibles: Aside from some of the best museums, restaurants, and entertainment available for those looking to explore the city beyond the Games — as well as a lakefront perfect for water sports — Chicago has one thing going for it that no other city does: Medinah Country Club. It’s a championship course that would have been a perfect place for golf to return to the Olympics for the first time since (wait for it) the 1904 St. Louis Games. Thanks a lot, Rio.

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross win World Series of Beach Volleyball

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Rio bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from an Olympic upset to win the biggest annual tournament in the U.S. on Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross captured the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball title in Long Beach, Calif., for the second time in three years. They beat Spanish pair Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo 21-16, 21-16 in the final.

“We love those girls so much, they are dear friends of ours,” Walsh Jennings said. “We wanted to beat them down.”

Absent from Long Beach were Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and silver medalists Ágatha and Bárbara of Brazil.

Walsh Jennings and Ross, who lost to Ágatha and Bárbara in the Olympic semifinals, dropped a total of two sets in seven undefeated matches this past week.

They earned their fifth international title of the year after winning none in 2015, last season shortened by Walsh Jennings’ fifth right shoulder surgery.

In the men’s final, Brazil’s No. 2 pair, Pedro and Evandro, beat top U.S. pair Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 19-21, 21-17, 15-9.

Olympic champions Alison and Bruno of Brazil did not compete in Long Beach.

The beach volleyball season continues with the FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto in two weeks.

MORE: Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Monica Puig’s unlikely Olympic tennis gold reminded her of ‘Miracle’ scene

Monica Puig
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NEW YORK (AP) — Monica Puig gazed out at her fellow Puerto Ricans jamming the parade route, and in their eyes she saw hope.

They hailed her with “a sense of satisfaction,” she recalled Saturday, “and a sense of belief that things are going to get better.”

Throughout her stunning run to the Olympic tennis gold medal, Puig embraced the symbolism of each upset victory. An economic crisis is devastating the island of her birth, and she appreciated that if she could prove the impossible is possible, that message would reverberate far beyond sports.

“If Puerto Rico channels that same energy and belief that things will get better and working for the better of the island, the better of the community, things will improve,” Puig said four days after the U.S. territory honored its Olympic team and, above all, its first gold medalist.

“I really hope I gave them a lot of confidence moving forward,” she added, “that things will actually get better.”

The world’s 34th-ranked women’s tennis player met with a roomful of reporters Saturday, exactly two weeks after she beat Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final in Rio de Janeiro. Poised and philosophical in ways that bely her age, the 22-year-old realizes some people deem her gold medal “a fluke.”

After all, Puig has never made it past the round of 16 at a major. And at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, she’s never advanced beyond the second round. Puig is already bracing herself for the reality that her run at Flushing Meadows could fall well short of what took place in Rio.

“I’m 22 years old. There’s still a long way for me to go, a long stretch of career,” she said. “If anything happens, any kind of slip-up, it’s not really going to be a big deal, because I have a process and I have a long-term view of where I want to go.”

Which isn’t to say she expects a slip-up.

“I know that the Olympics wasn’t a fluke for me, because I have worked very hard to get to where I am,” Puig said. “I know the hours and the tears and the sweat and everything that’s been put into my practices. It’s been very difficult for me.

“But that moment, nobody will be able to take away.”

Even she considers that Olympic moment to be like something out of a movie script. When spectators chanted “Si se puede!” (“Yes you can!” in Spanish) during the final against the second-ranked Kerber, Puig flashed back to a scene from the film “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

With fans roaring “U-S-A!” coach Herb Brooks tells his players: “Listen to them. That’s what you’ve done.” As Puig said Saturday, “I needed to listen to the crowd.”

Her gold might not have been quite as unlikely as the Miracle on Ice, but it wasn’t too far off. The night after her victory, Puig slept with the medal on her nightstand, waking up every few hours to make sure it was real. She still feels the need to check up on it during the day.

“I see the videos and I’m like, ‘Did this really just happen?'” Puig said.

When they showed the clip of her medal ceremony when she was honored in Puerto Rico, she started crying again. Through it all, she insisted Saturday, she felt she kept her focus, knowing the U.S. Open was looming.

After Rio, Puig spent some time with her family in Miami, where she lives. Then it was on to the island “where the big party was waiting.” It’s been hard to squeeze in sleep and alone time and practice — all the things she needs to recover from one big event and prepare for another.

Puig faces 60th-ranked Zheng Saisai, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics, in the first round Monday. She originally wasn’t seeded at Flushing Meadows, which meant she could have faced a top player in her opening match, but she moved up to the final seed when Sloane Stephens withdrew because of an injury Friday.

It’s the first time Puig has been seeded at a major, and in what was a breakthrough season even before her golden moment, she’s starting to grow comfortable with those sorts of roles.

“I feel like I finally understand what I’m doing when it comes to tennis,” she said.

MORE: U.S. goes one-two in Olympic mixed doubles