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100 days until Paralympics: 10 U.S. athletes to watch

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The Paralympics begin in 100 days, and the U.S. team is sure to include many medal contenders.

A look at 10 of them as the March 9 Opening Ceremony draws near … 

Andrew Kurka, Alpine Skiing
Led the U.S. at last season’s world championships with downhill gold, giant slalom silver and super-G bronze. Starting at age 8, won six Alaska state wrestling titles before an ATV accident at age 13 severely damaged three vertebrae in the middle of his spinal cord. Made the Sochi Paralympic team but did not compete after breaking his back in a training run crash. Also competes as a bodybuilder.

Alana Nichols, Alpine Skiing
The first U.S. woman to win gold at both the Summer and Winter Games announced in August the end of a three-year retirement from Alpine skiing. The 34-year-old had not raced since earning silver and bronze medals at her second Winter Games in Sochi.

Danelle Umstead, Alpine Skiing
Earned three combined bronze medals in 2010 and 2014 in the visually impaired classification with husband Rob as her guide. The 45-year-old has said PyeongChang will be her final Games. Every day she listens to an audio recording of sounds of the PyeongChang downhill course from start to finish (along with Rob’s commands) that she took at last year’s test event.

Aaron Pike, Biathlon/Cross-Country Skiing
Competed in the last three Paralympics — London 2012 and Rio 2016 in track and field and Sochi 2014 in biathlon and cross-country. Pike, 30, has never won a medal at the Paralympics or worlds in any sport but was fourth and fifth in two biathlon events at last season’s worlds.

Oksana Masters, Biathlon/Cross-Country Skiing
Masters has become one of the world’s most versatile athletes after being born in Ukraine with defects believed to be caused by the Chernobyl disaster and bouncing from orphanage to orphanage for seven years before being adopted by a single mother in New York. A Paralympic medalist in rowing (2012) and cross-country skiing (2014) but lacks gold. Masters also raced in road cycling at Rio 2016, taking fourth- and fifth-place finishes. She starred at last season’s Nordic worlds, bagging four gold medals and one bronze between biathlon and cross-country skiing. As is boyfriend Pike, trying to become the second American to earn an Olympic or Paralympic medal in biathlon (Andy Soule, 2010 Paralympics).

Steve Emt, Curling
Leader of the already-named U.S. Paralympic curling team of five athletes. The 46-year-old played briefly in two basketball games for the University of Connecticut in the 1993-94 season as a walk-on. Emt, paralyzed in a 1995 car accident, skipped the U.S. to a seventh-place finish at last season’s world championship.

Steve Cash, Hockey
Longtime goalie for the U.S. national team. Played all but 15 minutes of the U.S.’ five games in 2010 and didn’t allow a goal on 33 shots, including a penalty shot in the gold-medal game. Posted another three shutouts in 2014, including in the gold-medal game against Russia.

Declan Farmer, Hockey
The 20-year-old Princeton student broke U.S. records for goals (12) and points (18) at a single world championship last season. At 16, shared the U.S. leads with three goals and five points in Sochi.

Amy Purdy, Snowboarding
Instrumental in getting her sport added to the Paralympics for Sochi, then took bronze in snowboard cross at the Games. Spent eight days in the hospital last November with rhabdomyolysis. Returned to take bronze in banked slalom at worlds in February. Banked slalom will make its Paralympic debut in PyeongChang. Also was runner-up on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014 and performed at the Rio Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

Evan Strong, Snowboarding
Strong, who was raised in Maui, led a U.S. snowboard cross podium sweep in Sochi. He then took silver at last season’s worlds. Originally a skateboarder who got his first sponsor at age 13. Switched to snowboarding after a drunk driver struck him head-on on his motorcycle at age 17, requiring his left leg to be partially amputated.

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NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

Usain Bolt says he will work out for Borussia Dortmund on Thursday

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Usain Bolt said he will work out for German soccer club Borussia Dortmund on Thursday. At the very least, it will aid in Bolt’s preparation for a June 10 charity match.

Bolt confirmed the date of the training in an Italian TV interview on Wednesday in Basel, Switzerland, after he kicked the ball around with retired soccer stars in front of Diego Maradona and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

“We’re going there to be serious,” Bolt said on Jamaican TV two weeks ago of his trip to Germany. “I want to go there to test my skills.”

Bolt said two weeks ago that his two-day trial will include a public session and a more serious private session. He recently trained three days a week with one of the club’s in Jamaica’s top domestic league, Harbour View.

“I’ve done enough to keep a semblance of fitness,” said Bolt, who tore his left hamstring in the final race of his career at the world championships on Aug. 12.

Bolt added that he could easily make any team in Jamaica’s top division, but that he needs more time to reach a fitness level required to play serious minutes.

Bolt previously said he could easily make Jamaica’s national team, according to Reuters.

Bolt has dreamed of playing for his favorite club, Manchester United.

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Ichiro: No plan for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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Ichiro said he does not plan to play for Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to The Athletic.

The 44-year-old noted that MLB players have historically not been in the Olympics and that he plans to still be playing for an MLB team in 2020, according to the report.

Ichiro’s comments agree with what he reportedly said in 2000, the last time he could have played in the Olympics, one year before debuting with the Seattle Mariners.

“As I said before, I’m not interested in the Olympics, and I don’t know what all the commotion is about,” he said in January 2000 at a temple in Kobe where his Japanese team went to pray for victory in the upcoming season, according to Kyodo News.

Baseball was an Olympic medal sport from 1992 through 2008 with no MLB participation. It was out of the Olympic program for 2012 and 2016 but is back in for 2020 only with the potential for future Games.

While it’s not official yet, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said last year that he “can’t imagine a situation” where MLB would take a break in its season to have its best players at the Olympics.

Japan made the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments but never took gold.

Ichiro did help Japan to World Baseball Classic titles in 2006 and 2009 before choosing not to play in 2013 (when Japan had zero MLB players on its WBC roster) and again not being on Japan’s team in 2017 (when Japan had one MLB player).

In 2020, Ichiro will be more than two years older than the oldest previous Olympic baseball player — South African Alan Phillips in 2000.

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