Miki Ando

World champion figure skater Miki Ando reveals secret birth

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Two-time world figure skating champion Miki Ando splattered newspaper front pages in Japan on Tuesday after she revealed on a Monday night TV show that she had a baby girl during a break from competition.

Ando, the 2007 and 2011 world champ, hinted that she considered an abortion before giving birth in April, according to Agence-France Press.

“I could not make up my mind all the way, but I hated to make a decision to say goodbye (to the baby),” Ando said, according to AFP. “I have chosen the baby’s life over skating.

“It was a decision I made naturally as a woman.”

Ando, who has landed a quadruple jump in competition, said she will still try to make the Japanese team for the Sochi Olympics, which would be her third Games, and then retire, according to AFP. Ando was fifth at the 2010 Olympics and 15th at the 2006 Olympics, when she was 18.

Japan is deep again in ladies figure skating, so Ando’s task will be tough. There’s 2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada and 2010 world junior champion Kanako Murakami, who placed third and fourth, respectively, at worlds in March. Akiko Suzuki, the 2012 world bronze medalist, is the third favorite at the Japanese championships in December, where Ando will almost surely have to make the podium to have a shot at selection into the three-skater Olympic team.

Ando, who hasn’t skated competitively in nearly two years, is reportedly without a coach and did not receive Grand Prix assignments for the upcoming season.

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Mikaela Shiffrin likely to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin will probably race the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday, according to the Denver Post.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February, according to the report.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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Tony Parker plans to play in Olympic qualifying, Rio Games

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker said he plans to play in both Olympic qualifying in July and the Rio Games in August, according to L’Equipe.

Parker, 33, previously said he could miss the tournaments this summer, at least in part due to his wife’s pregnancy, according to French media.

Parker said his wife is due in late July, which would fall in between France’s Olympic qualifying tournament (July 4-10 in the Philippines) and the Rio Games (Aug. 6-21).

Parker led France at the 2012 Olympics with 15.7 points per game. The French lost two games in London, to the gold medalist U.S. in group play and silver medalist Spain in the quarterfinals.

Parker led all players with 19 points per game at 2013 EuroBasket, won by France.

In September, Parker and France fell in the EuroBasket semifinals to Spain in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

The defeat forced France to a last-chance, winner-take-all, six-team Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

In the Philippines, France will face a field that includes Canada, which had nine NBA players on its roster (including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins) at August’s FIBA Americas yet was stunned in a winner-goes-to-Rio game by Venezuela, which had zero NBA players.

France is likely to be without Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah this summer as he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in January and hasn’t played a major tournament for the national team since 2011 EuroBasket.

Other French NBA players include Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw and Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier.

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