Neymar

Brazil’s Olympic coach wants Neymar to play at Rio 2016

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Neymar‘s broken vertebra prevented him from leading Brazil to a World Cup triumph at home, but he may get another shot at the Olympics.

Brazil’s Olympic coach, Alexandre Gallo, said he wants the superstar striker to be one of his three over-age players on an otherwise 23-and-under team in Rio de Janeiro, according to O Globo.

Brazil, which has won five World Cups, has never won Olympic gold in soccer. It won silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Neymar, then 20, was part of the 2012 Olympic Team favored to win gold in London that lost to Mexico in the final.

Some nations take greater advantage of the Olympic rule that allows three over-age players more than others. In 2012, Brazil used its exceptions on three exceptional players — HulkMarcelo and Thiago Silva — who started for Brazil in the just-completed World Cup.

An issue in 2016 that was not present in 2012, however, is the special Copa America Centenario, the 100th anniversary of the tournament that crowns the champion of South America.

It’s the biggest tournament of the year for Brazil’s senior national team, and its presence also puts U.S. goalie Tim Howard‘s chances of playing in Rio at risk.

Copa America Centenario takes place from June 3-26. Soccer at the 2016 Olympics takes place from Aug. 3-19. Neymar plays for Barcelona in La Liga, whose season usually begins in late August.

That would be one busy spring and summer for Neymar, who would be the host nation’s most recognizable Olympian should he suit up in Rio.

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Chris Froome eyes Tour-Olympic double; cyclists face quick turnaround for Rio

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 24:  Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky (C) celebrates finishing first, Romain Bardet of France and AG2R La Mondial Team (L) celebrates finising second and Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Movistar Team (R) celebrates finishing third as they stand on the podium following stage twenty one of the 2016 Le Tour de France, from Chantilly to Paris Champs-Elysees on July 24, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome didn’t indulge in big celebrations on the Champs Elysees. After securing a third Tour de France title in four years on Sunday, the Kenyan-born British rider turned his focus to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

He finished safely at the back of the main pack in the final stage, arm-in-arm with his teammates during the mostly ceremonial leg ending on the cobblestones below the Arc de Triomphe.

At the start of the stage, Froome dropped back to his Team Sky car to collect bottles of beer and distributed them to each of his eight teammates for a celebratory round. Later, they enjoyed the traditional flute of champagne.

But then it was time to look ahead. Froome, a bronze Olympic medalist in the time trial four years ago in London, will once again be among the favorites in the race against the clock in Brazil.

Froome even beat specialist Tom Dumoulin in his favorite discipline in Thursday’s second time trial.

“I think it’s a course (in Rio) that suits me well, there’s almost a thousand meters of climbing and it’s almost 60 kilometers in length,” said Froome, who will also compete in the road race in Rio. “It’s going to be an extremely tough event. I won a bronze medal in the last Olympics in London and it would be absolutely incredible to win another one this year.”

The 54.5-kilometer (34-mile) men’s time trial in Rio, which features four climbs, is on Aug. 10.

Froome traveled to Rio during the winter to preview the Olympic circuit and has changed his preparations this year to maintain peak form until the games.

Four years ago, Froome’s former teammate Bradley Wiggins managed to secure a Tour-Olympics double, triumphing in the London 2012 Games’ time trial ahead of German Tony Martin and Froome after posting the first British win at the Tour in July.

Froome’s hopes of victory in Rio have been boosted by Dumoulin’s injury at the Tour on Friday. The Dutchman pulled out of the Tour after fracturing his wrist and might not recover in time for the Olympics.

Martin also was injured in France, but he says he will be in Rio. He experienced knee pain and pulled out of during stage 21.

“I left directly after the stage,” he said on his Facebook page. “That was not because of my exit from the race, but had been planned all along with an eye to Rio and my further preparation.”

Nairo Quintana of Colombia, however, is expected to miss the Olympics with an illness picked up at the Tour, according to Cycling Weekly. The 26-year-old finished third overall behind Frenchman Romain Bardet in second and Froome in first. Quintana will undergo tests with an eye on returning for the Vuelta a España later in August.

Froome said he will take some days off to recover before competing in a one-day race in London next weekend.

Then it’s off to Rio.

“We’ll be there about a week before the race to start training a bit more again,” Froome said.

Yulia Efimova among Russian swimmers barred from Olympics by FINA

Yulia Efimova
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Seven Russian swimmers, including its most decorated active swimmer, are ineligible for the Rio Olympics, the sport’s international governing body said Monday.

FINA ruled out of Rio reigning world 100m breaststroke champion Yulia Efimova, plus Olympic or world championships medalists Vladimir Morozov, Nikita Lobintsev and Daria Ustinova.

Efimova, who has previously served a doping ban, was ruled out after the International Olympic Committee mandated Sunday that any Russian who has previously served a doping ban is ineligible for Rio.

Efimova’s agent said she would take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if she’s ruled out of Rio, according to Russian media.

Efimova ranks No. 2 in the world this year in the 100m breast, behind U.S. Olympic Trials winner Lilly King, and No. 2 in the 200m breast, behind Japan’s Rie Kaneto. Efimova took 200m breast bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.

Morozov, Lobintsev and Ustinova were barred by FINA for corresponding to doping samples mentioned in an independent report into Russian doping published last week.

MORE: Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio Olympics