Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell

Rory, McDowell ask the IOC to step in

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Golfer Rory McIlroy and his Northern Ireland countryman Graeme McDowell have been between a rock and a 400-year old conflict ever since a reporter asked which country the world No. 1 was planning to represent – Great Britain or Ireland – when golf returns to the Olympics in 2016.

It’s a choice the IOC affords the two golfers given their heritage, but it’s not one they necessarily relish.

“We’re kind of in a unique scenario in Northern Ireland,” McDowell told reporters in Shanghai of the opportunity to play under either flag. “We have one foot on each team. I think it’s going to be a lot easier if someone makes the decision for us.”

McIlroy earlier admitted that he’s “always felt more British than Irish” before backlash forced him to retreat from his comments and post on Twitter that he hasn’t decided which team he’ll play for seeing as how the Olympics are still four years away.

Irish Olympic committee president Pat Hickey then said the 23-year-old medal favorite would be in “the pole position” for the honor of flag bearer if he committed to competing for Ireland, but so far McIlroy has kept his mouth shut and his eyes on the upcoming three years of golf ahead.

McDowell, who won the 2010 U.S. Open, said the choice is particularly tough for him since he comes from a mixed-religion family: his Catholic mother would probably prefer he play for Ireland while his Protestant father would likely hope he dons the Union Jack.

“But then I always kind of sit on the fence because that’s exactly the only place I can sit,” McDowell concluded. “Let’s say that I’d play for whatever team we have come 2016.”

Hope Solo: I wouldn’t go to Olympics if I had to choose today

Hope Solo
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U.S. goalie Hope Solo said she would not go to the Rio Olympics if she had to choose today, citing being uncomfortable with the current situation in Brazil including the Zika virus, according to SI.com.

Pregnant women are at risk from the mosquito-borne, Brazil-based virus, Rio Games organizers medical director Dr. Joao Grangeiro said last week, according to The Associated Press.

It has sometimes been associated with a brain birth defect.

Olympic soccer matches will be held not only in Rio but also several other Brazilian cities that may have more mosquitoes and a greater Zika risk.

“No athlete competing in Rio should be faced with this dilemma,” Solo, a two-time Olympic champion, said, according to SI.com. “Female professional athletes already face many different considerations and have to make choices that male professional athletes don’t.

“We accept these particular choices as part of being a woman, but I do not accept being forced into making the decision between competing for my country and sacrificing the potential health of a child, or staying home and giving up my dreams and goals as an athlete. Competing in the Olympics should be a safe environment for every athlete, male and female alike. Female athletes should not be forced to make a decision that could sacrifice the health of a child.”

Grangeiro said the athletes would not be at risk during the Olympics in August, that there will be fewer mosquitoes in Brazil’s winter (opposite the U.S. summer), according to the AP.

“We will not have an epidemic or pandemic situation,” Grangeiro said, according to the AP. “We can’t say we won’t have any cases [during the Games], but we see this as a minimal risk.”

Solo and the U.S. women’s soccer team begin their Olympic qualifying tournament Wednesday (on NBC Sports Live Extra, full schedule here).

MORE: U.S. women’s soccer named 20-player Olympic qualifying roster

How to watch U.S. Olympic marathon trials

Meb Keflezighi
AP
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The U.S. Olympic marathon trials will air live for the first time, on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. ET.

The top three finishers in each of the men’s and women’s races in Los Angeles will become the first members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field team.

The men’s race (1:06 p.m. ET) includes 2012 Olympic trials winner Meb Keflezighi hoping to become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner ever, Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp in his 26.2-mile debut and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, who was fourth at the 2012 trials in Houston.

The women’s race (1:22 p.m. ET) includes all three 2012 Olympic marathon team members — Shalane FlanaganDesi Linden and Kara Goucher. Plus, Amy Hastings Cragg, who was fourth at trials four years ago.

Tom Hammond hosts coverage, joined by Craig Masback, Tim Hutchings, Lewis Johnson and Carrie Tollefson.

Olympic Marathon Trials Previews: Men | Women