Brazil eyes 27 to 30 medals at Rio Olympics

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A Brazilian Olympic Committee official set a target of 27 to 30 medals for the host nation at the 2016 Olympics, after Brazil won 17 at the 2012 Olympics, according to The Associated Press.

Marcus Vinicius, executive director of sport for the Brazilian Olympic Committee, also said Brazil is spending about $600 million on training athletes from 2012 to 2016 after spending about $350 million in the previous four-year cycle, the AP reported.

Vinicius’ medal target represents a 59 to 76 percent increase over its London total, which were the most medals Brazil had ever won at a single Games. Brazil has won at least 10 medals at the last five Summer Olympics and never won more than eight before that.

Great Britain won 47 medals in 2008 and then 65 when it hosted in London in 2012, a 38 percent increase. China won 63 medals in 2004 and 100 when it hosted in Beijing in 2008, a 59 percent increase.

In the Winter Olympics, Russia won 15 medals in 2010 and then 33 when it hosted in Sochi in 2014, a 120 percent increase.

Brazil, traditionally strong in volleyball, sailing and judo, is likely to win the fewest medals of a Summer Olympic host nation since Greece won 16 at Athens 2004.

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Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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