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Could Tokyo’s victory help baseball, softball get back in Olympics?

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Sports Nippon, one of Japan’s leading sports newspapers, had the number 20, not 2020, splashed on its front page of Saturday’s edition.

The centerpiece photo was of Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka fist pumping as he raised his record for the season to a record-tying 20-0.

That’s how big baseball is in Japan. Going into the day Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics, baseball was the biggest story.

No doubt, any fan of baseball (and softball) to get back into the Olympics smiled when Tokyo defeated Istanbul and Madrid in Saturday’s International Olympic Committee vote held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here’s why:

Baseball and softball are in a combined bid to rejoin the Olympics for 2020 and 2024. Another IOC vote will be held Sunday, choosing one sport from baseball-softball, squash and wrestling to add to the Olympic program. Wrestling is considered the front-runner, baseball-softball in second and squash third.

Sunday’s sport vote previews: Baseball-softball | Squash | Wrestling

Tokyo’s win Saturday could give baseball-softball a boost. Japan looks upon baseball and softball more favorably than perhaps any other nation. It’s got the success to back it up.

Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009), which has replaced the Olympics as baseball’s major international tournament. Japan also won the last Olympic softball title in 2008. Both sports were cut from the Olympics in 2005, with the exclusion taking effect beginning with the London 2012 Games.

“If Tokyo wins the honor to host the Olympic Games in 2020, I believe baseball and softball competitions will deliver the peak of Olympic sport, capturing the full attention of our entire nation and others around the world,” said legendary Japanese slugger Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 career home runs, according to a release from the World Baseball Softball Confederation. “The electrifying atmosphere of Japan playing at home for the gold medal would give the ballplayers and the fans the most unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Granted, IOC members must consider the future of the Olympics and not just a single Games in Tokyo. And keep this in mind: Japan won gold in three of the four women’s wrestling weight classes in 2012. Wrestling’s proposal to stay in the Games includes adding two women’s weight classes.

Hardball Talk: Tokyo’s in; baseball next?

Jamie Greubel Poser, husband get matching golds in Park City

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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Jamie Greubel Poser got the bounce-back race she wanted, and husband Christian Poser got another gold medal for the family collection.

Greubel Poser teamed with Lauren Gibbs to win a World Cup bobsled race for the U.S. on Friday night at the Utah Olympic Park, her sixth victory on the circuit and the 18th medal in her last 22 starts.

Later, German Nico Walther — with Poser as one of his pushers — won the first four-man race of the season.

Greubel Poser finished her two runs on the 2002 Olympic track in 1 minute, 40.72 seconds.

Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz of Canada were second in 1:40.82, while Elana Meyers Taylor and Lolo Jones of the U.S. rode the strength of two strong starts to finish third in 1:40.99.

RESULTS: Men | Women

Including the Sochi Olympics, it was the 13th time that Greubel Poser, Humphries and Meyers Taylor — the world’s top three drivers — swept the podium spots in an international race.

Walther was with Poser, Kevin Kuske and Eric Franke for the four-man win, hanging on to finish in 1:36.80.

It was barely good enough to hold off a huge rally from Canada’s Justin Kripps and his team of Lascelles Brown, Ben Coakwell and Neville Wright. Kripps’ sled was second in 1:36.83, nearly stealing the win after being only 10th in the first heat.

Canada also got bronze in the four-man, with Chris Spring driving along with pushers Jesse Lumsden, Alex Kopacz and Oluseyi Smith and finishing in 1:36.86.

The top U.S. finisher in four-man was Codie Bascue, who was seventh.

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MORE: Lolo Jones’ Olympic odyssey nears its end, bringing tears

Gracie Gold to miss U.S. Championships, Olympics

Gracie Gold
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Figure skater Gracie Gold will miss the rest of the season — including the Olympics — as she continues to undergo treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

“I have not had adequate training time in order to perform at the level at which I want to,” Gold said in a statement Friday. “It pains me to not compete in this Olympic season, but I know it’s for the best. I wish everyone the best of luck and will be cheering you all on. I want to thank everyone for the ongoing love and support. It means the world to me.”

Gold, a Sochi Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion, announced Sept. 1 that she was taking time away from figure skating to seek unspecified professional help.

On Oct. 13, she announced she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety and would skip the fall Grand Prix season.

The 22-year-old last competed at the U.S. Championships in January, placing a disastrous sixth.

Gold, the top American woman at the Sochi Olympics in fourth place, has not been the same skater since dropping from first after the 2016 World Championships short program to finish fourth, again just missing her first individual global medal.

She considered skipping the fall 2016 Grand Prix season, talking openly about physical struggles and even depression in that offseason.

She split from coach Frank Carroll after that sixth-place nationals. Gold then announced in February that she moved to Michigan to train under new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Then on Sept. 1, Gold announced she was taking a leave.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the reported Sept. 1 statement. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

The favorites for three U.S. Olympic women’s spots are 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, reigning U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

The Olympic team will be named after nationals in San Jose in January.

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MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule