Shani Davis asked if he might race team pursuit at Sochi Olympics

Shani Davis

Shani Davis‘ relationship with the Olympic team pursuit has been a touchy topic since the 2006 Olympics, which is why it was surprising to find the two-time Olympic champion address it in a question-and-answer posted on his website.

Davis, 31, did not compete in the team pursuit at either the 2006 or 2010 Olympics. In 2006, U.S. teammate Chad Hedrick criticized Davis for not entering the U.S. pool for the event in a complicated controversy that also left US Speedskating with some explaining to do. The U.S. was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

In 2010, Davis did not compete in the team pursuit after he didn’t submit his name for the candidate pool by a Dec. 24, 2009 deadline. The team, led by Hedrick, won surprise silver without him, beating the favored Netherlands.

Of 2014, here’s what Davis said in the q and a published Tuesday:

Q: Is racing Team Pursuit in the Olympics a possibility?
SD: Yes, of course. Hopefully I can do what’s best for the team. If they need me, I will be ready. As in Vancouver, my primary focus remains on skating to the best possible results in the individual distances, but as long as i don’t have to compromise my preparation or performance at 1000 and 1500, I would love the opportunity to once again help the U.S. team do what we did in 2011, which was win the World Championships. We’ll see.

Davis would likely not have to compromise his preparation for the 1,000 or the 1,500 in Sochi. The team pursuit is the final event of the speedskating program, as it was in Vancouver, one week after Davis’ last individual race.

The U.S. entered the team pursuit at two World Cup stops last season. Davis was not a part of the team either time, though he didn’t race any individual events at one of the two World Cup stops, being injured at the start of the season.

Davis did, however, compete in all four World Cup team pursuits in 2011-12, when the U.S. made the podium twice, and the 2012 World Championships, where the U.S. won silver.

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French Open: Iga Swiatek rolls toward possible Coco Gauff rematch

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek reached the French Open third round without dropping a set, eyeing a third Roland Garros title in four years. Not that she needed the help, but Swiatek’s immediate draw is wide open after the rest of the seeds in her section lost.

Swiatek dispatched 102nd-ranked American Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday, the same score as her first-round win. She gets 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China in the round of 32.

The other three seeds in Swiatek’s section all lost in the first round, so the earliest that the world No. 1 could play another seed is the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 6 Coco Gauff, who was runner-up to Swiatek last year.

Gauff plays her second-round match later Thursday against 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher. Gauff also doesn’t have any seeds in her way before a possible Swiatek showdown.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, came into this year’s French Open without the invincibility of a year ago, when she was 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury, but said it wasn’t serious. That diagnosis appears to have been spot-on through two matches this week, though her serve was broken twice in the first set of each match.

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan also reached the third round without dropping a set.

Though all of them have beaten Swiatek in 2023, the Pole remains the favorite to lift the trophy a week from Saturday. She can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

She can also become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

Swiatek doesn’t dwell on it.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles,” she said. “I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

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Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak

Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed a left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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