Lionel Messi
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Lionel Messi unlikely to play in Rio Olympics, Argentina coach says

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Lionel Messi is unlikely to be one of a maximum three over-age players on Argentina’s soccer team for the Rio Olympics, national team coach Gerardo Martino said in this video interview published Wednesday.

Martino said a decision on Messi and the Olympics hasn’t been made, but he doesn’t see Messi’s inclusion feasible at least in part because the under-23 national team is stacked with attackers.

Messi, 28, is over the under-23 age limit for Olympic soccer rosters. However, nations can include three players with no age restrictions on the Olympic team.

Messi, then 21, won gold with Argentina at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, despite the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling his club team, Barcelona, did not have to release him to play.

Argentina did not qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

VIDEO: Adidas unveils 2016 Olympic soccer ball

Injuries bite biggest Olympic track and field stars as Trials begin

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EUGENE, Ore. — Around the time Sanya Richards-Rosstorn right hamstring ended her career on the Hayward Field backstretch, Usain Bolt was being diagnosed with a torn hamstring of his own.

Allyson Felix, running in significant pain and in a 400m first-round heat following Richards-Ross, managed her injury to finish second and advance to Saturday’s semifinals, the second of a planned six races in nine days at Hayward Field.

An anticipated update from Felix on her grade-two right-ankle sprain with partially torn ligaments was not available. She left the track and did not pass by media. Word came that she was receiving treatment for the toughest injury of her decorated career.

The Rio Olympics open Aug. 5. Track and field is the marquee sport. And its headliners are ailing.

Not only Bolt and Felix, but also concerning is the form of Ethiopian distance queen Genzebe Dibaba, who failed to finish in her first race since March 20 and was wheeled out in a chair on Thursday.

In Eugene, the first day of Trials saw the end of Olympic careers for Richards-Ross, the 2012 400m gold medalist, plus lesser-known veterans — 2004 shot put gold medalist Adam Nelson and 2012 shot put bronze medalist Reese Hoffa.

Three more Olympic medalists in their twilights — Jeremy WarinerDeeDee Trotter and Bernard Lagat — came into races Friday as underdogs and remained that way afterward, though their Trials are not yet finished.

Richards-Ross’ right hamstring, torn in a 100m race June 4, would not let her accelerate to a speed fast enough to advance out of her heat Friday.

She came to a stop with about 150 meters to go. Her first thoughts?

“No Rio. No Rio,” she said. “That’s the toughest part for every athlete is you really want to go to the Olympics. No matter how banged up you are, you still think it’s possible.”

Richards-Ross, largely sidelined by toe problems since her London title, had said in April this would be her final season. She said Friday night, just before tears began flowing, that the Olympic Trials were her final meet.

Richards-Ross has a book coming out in 2017, wants to work in broadcasting and start a family with husband Aaron Ross, an NFL cornerback.

“This is really the end of it for me,” she said.

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Richards-Ross, 31, and Wariner, 32 and the 2004 Olympic men’s 400m champion, have long been stablemates under venerable Baylor coach Clyde Hart.

Wariner, too, is present for one more Olympic Trials. After being sick for a month and a half, he reached the 16-man 400m semifinals with the 12th-best time Friday. It took his best race of the season to advance. Wariner has no real expectations for the rest of the weekend.

“If I make the next round, enjoy it, run my heart out, leave it all on the track,” he said. “Then if I make final, do it again.”

Wariner has a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches franchise in Dallas, Texas, waiting for once he completes his final lap.

“I’m looking for the future,” Wariner said, his trademark shades resting on his forehead while speaking to media for 20 minutes after his 46-second race, “but at the same time do what’s in the present.”

In the 10-day Trials’ very first event, Nelson returned to the shot put circle for qualifying in the morning, six days before his 41st birthday.

Nelson was here to bring more attention for athletes’ rights amid growing sponsorship and contract disputes. And to inspire younger athletes.

He was introduced in front of a sparse crowd as “Olympic champion Adam Nelson” for the first time. Nelson, originally the Athens 2004 silver medalist, was upgraded to gold in 2013 after Ukraine’s Yuriy Bilonog was stripped for doping.

“Waited a long time to hear that,” Nelson, the man known for his intense, shirt-ripping pre-throw routine, said as he fought to hold back tears. “As Olympians we have to know the process, and medals are just tangible reminders or a representation of everything that it took to get to that moment. For eight years in my life, a silver medal sort of changed the way I looked at things. It really inspired me to keep going in the sport.”

Nelson was later honored at the Trials’ opening ceremony with the medal presentation he should have received 12 years ago in Olympia. Then Nelson, recently slowed by a groin injury, finished an admirable seventh in the shot put final.

“Things don’t always hold together the way they’re supposed to,” Nelson lamented of aging.

Later Friday night, the 41-year-old Lagat dropped out of the 10,000m final that would be won by Galen Rupp for a second straight Olympic Trials. He didn’t cite injury, though Lagat had not raced since May 28, according to Tilastopaja.org, when he dropped out of the Prefontaine Classic 5000m with a cold.

Lagat, a 2000 and 2004 Olympic 1500m medalist when he represented Kenya, said he pulled the plug Friday night when he realized his chance of finishing in the top three to make the Rio team was weak. He’s conserving energy for the 5000m, which starts here Monday.

“I’m a guy that looks forward,” Lagat said. “I still have one more shot.”

MORE: Nike lawsuit behind him, Boris Berian competes at Olympic Trials

Sole search: Nike lawsuit behind him, Boris Berian competes at Olympic Trials

Boris Berian
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — It’s not so much the logo on the outside of the shoes as the feet on the inside that can carry Boris Berian to the Olympics.

After Nike dropped its lawsuit against him last week, the 800-meter runner was able to concentrate solely on racing. Berian turned in the fastest time in the first round Friday at the U.S. Track and Field Trials while wearing new spikes from New Balance.

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” said the 23-year-old Berian, who flipped burgers at a McDonald’s in Colorado Springs, Colorado, two years ago to make ends meet while he trained. “I didn’t know how much it was really bothering me until (Nike) dropped it.”

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There was a time when Berian didn’t even know if he would be allowed to compete at trials given the state of the lawsuit.

At a meet in May in Southern California, Berian was sued by Nike Inc., which accused him of breach of contract. His endorsement deal with Nike went through Dec. 31, 2015, but gave the company the right to match any other offers. Nike felt it matched an offer presented by New Balance Athletics Inc., which Berian preferred.

A judge was scheduled to issue a ruling earlier this week before Nike announced it was dropping the suit.

“I was just trying to stay as focused as I can — keep all the crazy, legal stuff to my agent and lawyers and me relax and focus on running,” Berian said. “I was definitely annoyed every single day, just kept training.”

Now, he’s a clear favorite to earn an Olympic spot at the Rio Games, especially after an opening round of the 800 in which NCAA champion Donavan Brazier and 2012 Olympian Duane Solomon failed to qualify. Another favorite, Nick Symmonds, withdrew the day before because of a torn ligament and stress fracture in his left ankle.

“I have some great competition out here. Can’t let off too much,” Berian said. “Got to keep pushing it. Can’t underestimate anyone out here.”

Berian is a bit of a cult hero to some of his competitors for standing up to Nike. Several have praised him for not backing down under the pressure.

“They give me a lot of good support,” Berian said. “We’re like a family. Even though we’re enemies on the track, we’re all good friends.”

His new shoes arrived two days ago. He’s still breaking them in.

“It was a good present,” Berian said. “It made me happy.”

MORE: Usain Bolt out of Jamaican Olympic Trials (hamstring), still hopes for Rio