Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher

Fletcher brothers make it seven sibling sets on U.S. Olympic Team

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Bryan and Taylor Fletcher look to build on U.S. Nordic Combined’s breakout Olympics in 2010 as two of the leaders on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team.

The Fletchers joined 2010 Olympic champion Bill Demong and silver medalist Todd Lodwick on the four-man team. They are the seventh set of siblings on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, breaking the U.S. Winter Games record of six in 1964, when there were far fewer total athletes than today.

Demong is going to his fourth Olympics; Lodwick, previously named to the team, is headed for a record sixth Winter Olympics for an American, so long as his shoulder holds up.

“We’re hoping that [Lodwick] is going to be able to recover and contribute to the team,” U.S. coach Dave Jarrett said. “We’re not necessarily looking at the first individual event (Feb. 12) for Todd. We want to give as much time as possible for the fractures to heal.”

The team event is Feb. 20.

Bryan Fletcher, four years older than Taylor, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3, underwent seven years of chemotherapy and survived a stroke before his cancer went into remission.

Taylor Fletcher was also on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team but was not chosen for the team event, where Demong and Lodwick won silver with Johnny Spillane and Brett Camerota.

“[Taylor] and his brother, Bryan, have begun to fill the void that Todd and Bill and Johnny have started to leave and are going to leave,” Jarrett said.

Earler in the Games, Spillane (now retired) won the first U.S. Olympic Nordic combined medal, a silver in the normal hill. Later, Demong won the first U.S. Olympic Nordic combined gold medal in the large hill.

“Bill is close to medal contention now,” Jarrett said. “If anyone knows how to peak physically and mentally when you really have, to Bill Demong is one of the best in the world at doing that.”

This year’s team is unlikely to achieve that kind of success. No American man or team has made a World Cup podium this season — Bryan Fletcher ranks highest in overall standings at 18th. However, the team won World Championships bronze last year.

The Fletcher brothers join six other sets of siblings on the U.S. Olympic Team — cross-country skiers Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, curlers Craig and Erika Brown, figure skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani, hockey players Amanda and Phil Kessel and Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux and snowboarders Arielle and Taylor Gold.

Demong and Taylor Fletcher engaged in playful bets the last two seasons. They resulted in Fletcher wearing a Captain America suit and Demong dressing as Aquaman in Europe.

Here’s the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team:

Bill Demong — 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian
Bryan Fletcher
Taylor Fletcher — 2010 Olympian
Todd Lodwick 
— 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian

Snowboarder who lives in truck makes Olympics

Rory McIlroy worried Olympic golf may be done after 2020

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Rory McIlroy believes golf may not remain in the Olympics after 2020 following a string of major champions announcing they will skip the sport’s return at the Rio Games.

“Because of how [Olympic golf is] being approached in golf circles … I’m not sure if we’re going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after [Tokyo 2020],” McIlroy said ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

In 2009, the International Olympic Committee voted to re-add golf and rugby to the Olympic program for the 2016 Olympics, with a review in 2017 if they would remain for the 2020 Olympics.

In 2013, Tokyo was elected host city for the 2020 Olympics with a plan that includes golf.

Beyond 2020, golf does not yet have a place in the Olympics. Its chances for the 2024 Olympics could come into focus when that host city is chosen in September 2017.

McIlroy, ranked No. 3 in the world, has repeated he will play for Ireland in the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904 in Rio in August.

Fellow major champions Adam ScottLouis OosthuizenCharl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh said last month they will not play in the Rio Olympics.

MORE: Golf Channel’s Olympic broadcast schedule

Abby Wambach to cover Olympics for ESPN

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Retired U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach is joining ESPN as an analyst and a contributor.

Wambach, the leading goal scorer of all time, will cover the European Championships in France and the Rio Olympics in August.

But her role won’t be limited to soccer: She will work across multiple platforms including ESPN Films and shows including “Outside the Lines,” according to the network.

“Talking and reporting on thing that I’m passionate about really, really was the selling point to me,” Wambach told The Associated Press. “Because I don’t want the rest of my life to be based on the fact that I played soccer. I want to be able to venture and learn about different things.”

Wambach also will produce a podcast, “Fearless Conversation with Abby Wambach,” which she promises won’t shy away from controversy. Among her first topics will be foreign players on the U.S. national team. Wambach drew criticism when she blasted U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann for bringing in “a bunch of these foreign guys” in December.

Oslo-born midfielder Mix Diskerud subsequently posted a message to Wambach on Instagram.

“I know we’re not quite equal. From ‘your group of people’ the country’s Commander in Chief need to be selected. However, other than that — you and I share something not unique, but constitutionally earned, a birthright to defend this nation as an American. Wherever we go. Led by whoever has earned, by democratic process, his/her right to lead, on or off the field, in peace, in war, in practice, or in any other kind of pursuit of your happiness,” he wrote.

Wambach said she’s willing to re-examine those comments.

“Why not? I think people tend to steer away from stuff that has caused controversy in their lives. For me, what better place to start? To be quite honest, it’s been few and far between in my career, the reason being that I’ve been speaking for 23 other women, so I kind of towed the party line during that time.”

Wambach, the FIFA Player of the Year in 2012, scored 184 career goals, more than any other player, male or female. She played 15 years with the U.S. women’s national team.

She capped her career last summer with the sport’s most prestigious championship when the United States defeated Japan 5-2 in Canada at the World Cup. It was the third World Cup title for the U.S. women and first since 1999.

Wambach appeared in four World Cups with the national team. She also has a pair of Olympic gold medals, from the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2012 Games in London. She did not compete in the Beijing Games because of a broken leg.

Wambach announced her retirement in October and played her final match in December.

Since she stepped away from the team, she has made several appearances at charity events and campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

During the course of her career, Wambach has been active in fighting for equal rights for female athletes. She led a group of players in protest of FIFA’s decision to play the 2015 World Cup on artificial turf, which is considered by many to be inferior to grass.

She made headlines last month when she was pulled over for driving under the influence in Portland, Ore., where she lives. After posting a public apology on her Facebook page, she pleaded guilty and entered a diversion program for first-time offenders.

MORE: Five Olympic questions with Abby Wambach