Arthur Zanetti

Ten sports where Brazil can win medals at Rio 2016

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The Brazil Olympic Committee set a goal of 27 to 30 medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics, a significant jump from its total of 17 at London 2012, its highest-ever tally.

Rio 2016 organizers outlined 10 sports where Brazil could reach the podium next year. Here’s a look at the list:

Gymnastics (Artistic)

The big four of China, Romania, Russia and the U.S. have long dominated artistic gymnastics, with the Japanese men recently joining the medal mix as well.

Brazil captured its first Olympic gymnastics medal at London 2012 in the form of Arthur Zanetti‘s gold on rings. Zanetti followed with gold and silver at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships.

The veteran Diego Hypolito, 28, has won five World Championships medals on floor exercise since 2005. He was the top qualifier into the Beijing 2008 floor final but wound up a tearful sixth.

Then there’s Sergio Sasaki, who in 2012 became the first Brazilian man to reach an Olympic all-around final. He was 10th and then fifth at the 2013 World Championships and seventh at the 2014 World Championships. However, Sasaki’s participation in the 2015 Worlds is in question due to knee surgery.

Handball

European nations have dominated in Olympic competition, but the Brazilian women captured their first World Championship medal in 2013, gold in Serbia. Duda Amorim is the reigning World Player of the Year.

Judo

Infostrada’s virtual medal table has Brazil winning five judo medals in 2016, based on recent international results. That would be Brazil’s best medal haul in any sport, if one separates open-water swimming from pool swimming.

Brazil also performed its best in judo in 2012, taking four medals split evenly between men and women. In 2016, Kayla Harrison, the first U.S. Olympic judo gold medalist, could be headed for a showdown with Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, the 2014 World champion.

Sailing

Brazil owns more sailing gold medals (six) than any other sport. Its most decorated Olympians are also sailors — Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael with five medals each. Scheidt is still active, while Grael is now a coach.

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are reigning World champions in the 49er FX and the female Sailors of the Year.

Soccer

Brazil may be a World Cup power, but of its seven combined Olympic men’s and women’s soccer medals (all since Los Angeles 1984), none are gold.

The most recognizable Brazil Olympians next year may be Barcelona striker Neymar and five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta.

Neymar played on the London 2012 silver medal-winning team, and in 2016 would have to be one of a maximum three players on the roster over the age of 23.

There is no such age restriction for the women’s teams. This summer’s World Cup should provide a clear picture of where Marta’s side stands among the world’s elite, such as the U.S.

Swimming (Open Water)

Brazil has never earned an Olympic open-water swimming medal, but only 12 have been awarded. The 10km events were introduced at Beijing 2008.

Brazil’s women took four of the nine medals at the 2013 World Championships. Poliana Okimoto and Ana Marcela Cunha earned two each.

Swimming (Pool)

Brazil topped the gold medal standings at the 2014 World Short Course Championships, but that’s deceiving because four of its seven titles came in non-Olympic stroke/relay distances and short course events are held in 25-meter pools. The Olympics are held in 50-meter pools.

Still, Brazil is looking more and more formidable in men’s sprint events. Cesar Cielo took 50m freestyle gold at the 2008 Olympics and 2009, 2011 and 2013 Worlds. He’s among a deep group that could form a 4x100m free relay that could beat world powers Australia, France and the U.S.

Track and Field

Track and field offers the most medals — 141 — of any sport at the Olympics. Brazil better increase its output over London 2012, where it failed to earn a track and field medal for the first time since 1992.

Brazil has medal threats in the women’s pole vault (Fabiana Murer had the three highest clearances in the world in 2014) and men’s long jump (Mauro Vinícius da Silva is the two-time reigning World Indoor champion but hasn’t translated it to outdoor success).

Volleyball (Beach)

Brazil owns more beach volleyball medals than any other nation, making the podium at every Olympics since the sport was introduced at Atlanta 1996.

Larissa and Talita appear the most formidable opposition to Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, recently prevailing in their first head-to-head in February in Rio de Janeiro.

On the men’s side, Emanuel and Ricardo reunited last summer and could go for a third Olympic medal together in Rio. Emanuel, 42, owns more international victories than any man or woman.

Volleyball (Indoor)

Infostrada has Brazil sweeping the golds at Rio 2016, which would be a major success for the nation. Indoor volleyball tickets have been reported to be the most sought-after of any sport, and the finals tickets are tied for the highest-priced (up to about $400) with basketball, track and field and beach volleyball.

The Brazilian men’s team took gold in 2004 and lost in the gold-medal games in 2008 (to the U.S.) and 2012 (to Russia). It also was stunned by Poland in the 2014 World Championship final.

The women are two-time reigning Olympic champions, but they were upset by the U.S. in a 2014 World Championships semifinal sweep.

Infostrada also has Brazil taking medals in boxing, tennis and wrestling at the Rio Olympics.

Rio 2016 Olympics day-by-day events to watch

USA Gymnastics closes Karolyi Ranch

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USA Gymnastics said it will no longer use the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as its training center, where athletes said Larry Nassar sexually abused gymnasts.

“USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas,” USA Gymnastics CEO and president Kerry Perry said in a press release Thursday. “It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

MORE: Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

World champions Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols said that Nassar sexually abused gymnasts at the ranch.

“When I was 15 I started to have back problems while at a National Team Camp at the Karolyi Ranch,” Nichols wrote in a victim impact statement read at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings on Wednesday and published last week. “This is when the changes in his medical treatments occurred.

“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain.

“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions.”

Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, urged USA Gymnastics to close the ranch in a Tuesday interview on ESPN.

“I hope USA Gymnastics listens because they haven’t listened to us so far,” she said. “I hope they listen, and I hope they don’t make any of the girls go back to the ranch. No one should have to go back there after, you know, so many of us were abused there.”

Simone Biles did not specifically name the Karolyi Ranch in her Monday statement, but Raisman said Tuesday that Biles was referring to that site.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing at Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” was posted on Biles’ social media.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, said Nassar was alone with her in her bed at the ranch.

“There was no one else sent with him,” she said on CBS last year. “The treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”

Larry Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A statement from McKayla Maroney read Thursday repeated that sexual assault by Larry Nassar “left scars” in her mind that may never fade as a judge heard a third day of testimony from victims.

Nassar could be sentenced Friday in Lansing. Since Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been listening to dozens of young women who were molested after seeking his help for injuries.

Aquilina started the hearing Thursday by saying Nassar had written a letter fearing that his mental health wasn’t strong enough to sit and listen to a parade of victims. He called the hearing “a media circus.”

The judge dismissed it as “mumbo jumbo.”

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls as a doctor for Michigan State University and at his home.

He also was a team doctor at USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney said in a statement read by a prosecutor (Maroney’s statement was previously posted in the fall). “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

USA Gymnastics in 2016 reached a financial settlement with Maroney that barred her from making disparaging remarks. But the organization this week said it would not seek any money for her “brave statements.”

A 2000 Olympian, Jamie Dantzscher, looked at Nassar and said, “How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness.”

“Your days of manipulation are over,” she said. “We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Nassar wasn’t the only target. Victims also criticized Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.

“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.

The judge has been praising each speaker and criticizing Nassar.

It’s “about their control over other human beings and feeling like God and they can do anything,” Aquilina said of sex offenders.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.