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Padraig Harrington goes to bat for Rory

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World No. 1 golfer, Rory McIlroy is already threatening to sit out the 2016 Rio Games due to pressure over whether he’ll play for Ireland or Great Britain. Now, champion Irish golfer Padraig Harrington is speaking out for the 23-year-old, saying that the IOC needs to make the call, or else everyone will miss out on Rory’s talents.

“I have massive sympathy as an Irishman and massive sympathy more so as a sportsman,” Harrington told the Belfast Telegraph. “No sportsman should have to make that decision. That’s it, straightforward — nobody at 23 years of age should be asked to make that decision.”

Harrington added that that since golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century, it will need the exploits of top young players like McIlroy to drive the storylines, bring in the audience, and prove that their sport belongs on podium along with the rest.

“We have two runs at it and we do, as golfers, have to perform and put our best foot forward, so it would be nice if the world number one is there and he’s supporting the event. It’s an extraordinarily difficult decision. We need our best players to play in the Olympics to show that golf is serious in the Olympics.”

Watch profile of Kyle Snyder, youngest American to win wrestling World title

Kyle Snyder
AP
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Kyle Snyder, who became the youngest American to win a World Wrestling Championship on Sept. 11, had planned to redshirt his sophomore year at Ohio State to focus on training for the Rio Olympics.

But Snyder is back wrestling for the Buckeyes this season.

Why?

“Kyle wants to help the team win the national title,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “It doesn’t hurt Kyle’s chances to make the Olympic team. We meet. He jumps on it.”

The announcement that Snyder would wrestle this season was made at 12:01 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Learn more about Snyder in an NBC Columbus affiliate profile.

MORE WRESTLING: Burroughs says he’s ‘on Mount Rushmore’

Lydia Ko: Olympics are top priority this year

Lydia Ko
AP
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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Top-ranked golfer Lydia Ko says the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be her top priority this year.

Ko, who will defend her New Zealand Open title from Friday, said there was “so much excitement and vibe” around the Olympic tournament, “especially as it’s the first time women will play at the Olympics in golf.”

The 18-year-old New Zealander said “ever since they announced that golf will be in the Olympics I said, ‘Hey, I want to get myself on that team.’ For any athlete to say you’re an Olympian is a whole new proud feeling, and to represent your country on such an international stage it’s going to be a pretty special week.”

The 54-hole New Zealand Open at the Clearwater Golf Club is co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and Australian Ladies PGA.

MORE: Inbee Park criticizes Olympic golf