3-on-3 basketball favored to be added to Olympics next week

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GENEVA (AP) — A full list of 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal events will be finalized by the IOC executive board next week, one month ahead of schedule.

Among more than 60 proposals, 3-on-3 basketball is an expected favorite after all were analyzed by an International Olympic Committee advisory panel.

The decision is due on Friday at a board meeting in Lausanne called at short notice to discuss awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosting rights to Los Angeles and Paris at the same time later this year.

“Now that we have an (executive board) meeting on June 9 it makes sense to use this opportunity,” the IOC said on Friday. “In addition, an early decision is clearly beneficial to all the parties involved.”

The half-court basketball format — close in spirit to neighborhood park pick-up games — once seemed set for the 2016 Olympics. Its bid for inclusion was curbed when organizers in Rio de Janeiro were stretched preparing for just the regular program.

Now, FIBA believes men’s and women’s tournaments in 3-on-3 are even better suited after skateboarding and sport climbing joined the Tokyo lineup last year.

“Now there is an urban cluster that has been created,” FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press. “The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball. It would certainly be a perfect fit.”

Still, don’t expect two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James to seek a third title in the three-a-side game which already has a global tournament circuit.

“That’s probably a nice dream to have,” Baumann said in a recent interview, adding: “Our objective is to have similar and fantastic stars that come out of 3-on-3.”

Baumann singled out the famed Rucker Park street court in Harlem, N.Y., when expressing hope “to see them in the Olympic Games two years down the road.”

Adjusting from the NBA game would also be tough, he said: “It’s a different skill set. It’s really a 10-minute sprint, no coach, so you need to take the right decisions.”

Adding 3-on-3 tournaments should add 96 athletes to basketball’s quota for the 2020 Olympics, a key test for the proposals next week.

The IOC wants to better appeal to young audiences and promote gender equality, but also stay within the limits of around 310 medal events and 11,000 athletes who must have housing and training venues.

Some proposals are for mixed-gender team events and relays — an IOC favorite — using the existing pool of athletes.

Canoeing, rowing, and shooting federations would drop some men’s events to add more for women.

Cycling wants to bolster its track program which was moved to a velodrome in Izu, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) outside Tokyo.

By setting the Tokyo lineup earlier, the IOC also clears a long-scheduled July 9-10 board meeting in Lausanne to focus more on the expected dual hosting award.

Paris seems favored to get the 2024 Olympics, with Los Angeles striking a deal to wait until 2028.

MORE: LeBron James considers Olympic return under new coach

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Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships

Alysia Montano
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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced four months pregnant in 110-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

In a Wonder Woman top, she gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative for people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. … I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

In the men’s 800m, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

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Lilly King to be less vocal on Yuliya Efimova topic this summer

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Expect to see Lilly King and Yuliya Efimova resume their breaststroke rivalry at the world championships next month.

It will look very different than in Rio, when King became a vocal opponent of doping and directed some of her words at the formerly suspended Russian Efimova.

“This summer, I’m not going to talk about everything that happened last summer,” King said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I spoke my piece. I’ve said everything I need to say.”

Her focus needs to stay in the pool, where she must finish first or second at the USA Swimming National Championships next week to make it to worlds (broadcast schedule here).

King said in May her goal is to break world records at worlds in Budapest in July.

She may need to in order to defeat Efimova like in Rio.

Efimova has the fastest 100m breast time in the world this year, a 1:04.82 set on Sunday. The national record put her No. 3 on the all-time list (and .09 faster than King’s winning time in Rio).

King is in third place this year at 1:06.20, though she spent all winter focusing on NCAA competition in 25-yard pools.

In Rio, King said Efimova shouldn’t have been allowed to compete given her doping history.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1, 2016, and was absolved along with other athletes.

King memorably finger-wagged at an image of Efimova on a TV in the ready room before her 100m breast semifinal and relegated the Russian to silver the following the night.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last November, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

King struggled with her newfound fame after she returned home last summer, sobbing in a winter meeting with her University of Indiana coach, Ray Looze, according to the Indianapolis Star:

It was so hard to do normal activities in her hometown – go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant – that she considered wearing a wig to disguise herself. Her likeness was on a bingo card at a fall festival, so people purposely looked for her. When in Evansville now, she said, she looks at the ground so no one will recognize her. After an initial wave of attention on IU’s campus, she can walk around without interruption.

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