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Lionel Messi puts Olympic gold medal in context of career

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Lionel Messi owns titles from La Liga, the U-20 World Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

His most prized trophy?

“The Olympic gold in 2008 is the win that I value the most,” Messi said, according to a Goal.com translation of a Spanish Esquire interview, “because it is a tournament that you may only play in once in your life and involves many athletes from different disciplines.”

Messi, then 21, helped lead Argentina to Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, his only Olympic appearance.

“The fact that we have been to the athletes village and met famous sportsmen, it’s all an experience that we will not forget quickly,” Messi said in 2008, according to The Associated Press.

The Olympic men’s soccer tournament is mostly made up of players 23 and younger, with veteran stars typically not taking part. Messi may have been able to play at the Rio Olympics, but the Copa America Centenario took precedence for Argentina’s national team last summer.

Without him, Argentina was knocked out in group play in Brazil.

One would think a World Cup title would triumph all for Messi.

“World Cup is great,” he said in May, according to ESPN, “but Olympics are something special.”

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Green Bay Packers pull another Olympic sport TD celebration

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We’re halfway to a decathlon of Olympic sport touchdown celebrations over the last two seasons.

After the hurdles, the long jump, the bobsled and the relay came the race walk on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, once part of a three-man bobsled team, led three other teammates in a race walk after scoring in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. (Adams later left the game with a concussion.)

Adams won the race walk, which was much, much shorter than the standard Olympic distances of 20km and 50km, over teammates Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb and Geronimo Allison.

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Canada in control of hockey rivalry going into Olympics

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Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.

This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.

The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”

The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.

“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.

Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.

At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.

Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).

“Can’t live in the past, can’t live in the future, so tonight we were worried about this game,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said, according to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t looking ahead to February.”

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