Ole Einar Bjoerndalen ties Winter Olympics record with 12th medal, wins biathlon 10km sprint

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Bjorn Daehlie, you have company.

The great Norwegian cross-country skier’s record of 12 Winter Olympic medals has now been equaled by biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who pulled even with Daehlie today by claiming the gold medal in the men’s 10km sprint.

Additionally, the 40-year-old Bjoerndalen has become the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist in an individual event with the seventh gold of his brilliant career. The previous record holder was Canadian skeleton racer Duff Gibson, who was 39 years, 190 days old when he won at Torino in 2006.

Austria’s Dominik Landertinger took the silver, 1.3 seconds behind Bjoerndalen, while Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic took the bronze at 5.7 seconds off the pace. Tim Burke led the Americans with a 19th place result.

MORE: NBCOlympics.com – Slideshow from Bjoerndalen’s record-matching victory

After making his Olympic debut in 1994, Bjoerndalen truly began his journey to becoming the “Biathlon King” with a sprint gold and relay silver at Nagano in 1998. Then came Salt Lake City in 2002, where he won four gold medals, becoming just the third Winter Olympian to win at least four golds in a single Olympics.

Torino saw him claim two silvers and a bronze, and he followed that with one silver and one gold four years ago in Vancouver. Now, with yet another gold in Sochi, he’s on the verge of becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.

MEN’S BIATHLON – 10KM SPRINT
1. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR), 24:33.5
2. Dominik Landertinger (AUT), 24:34.8
3. Jaroslav Soukup (CZE), 24:39.2

19. Tim Burke (USA), 25:23.3
35. Lowell Bailey (USA), 26:04.1
61. Russell Currier (USA), 26:58.5

U.S. beats Japan in Olympic baseball qualifier, may still need help

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The U.S. handed Japan its first loss in the Premier12 global Olympic baseball qualifier, at the Tokyo Dome no less, but now the Americans must root for the host nation.

The Americans, with a roster mostly of Double-A and Triple-A players, won 4-3 over a Japanese team that includes some of its domestic league’s biggest stars like two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru and veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Outfielder Jo Adell, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked prospect on the U.S. team, starred by reaching base four times with a home run.

Japan is already qualified for baseball’s Olympic return as the host nation.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a sense of urgency at Premier12, the first of a possible three tournaments in which it could clinch an Olympic spot.

At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams, and two are from the Americas: the U.S. and Mexico.

The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.

Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.

The U.S. moved to 1-2 in the super round on Tuesday and must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas.

Japan could help, since it plays Mexico on Wednesday. If Mexico beats Japan, the Mexicans clinch a spot in the gold-medal game, which would put more pressure on the U.S. to win its last two games (vs. Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday). Even then, South Korea would get into the gold-medal game if it wins out.

If the U.S. is not the top team from the Americas at Premier12, it can still earn an Olympic berth in March. But then it faces trying to come up with a roster at the end of MLB’s spring training rather than during the offseason. MLB teams may be less inclined to release minor leaguers.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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MORE: AL MVP nixes unretirement for Olympic baseball qualifying

College gymnast dies after practice accident

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An accomplished gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University has died following a serious spinal cord injury suffered in a training accident.

Melanie Coleman, 20, of Milford, Connecticut, was training Friday at New Era Gymnastics in Hamden when she was injured, said her mother, Susan Coleman.

She was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and died Sunday.

Coleman was a former All State gymnast at Jonathan Law High School in Milford and was captain of the school’s gymnastics team. She was named a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American this year.

Her former club coach, Tom Alberti, said she attained a level 10, the highest level in the USA Junior Olympics Program.

She was a junior studying nursing, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, her mother said.

“She’s from a very large, loving family; there’s seven of us, we were the Coleman seven,” Susan Coleman said. “We spent every day together for the past 20 years.”

She volunteered at the gym where her accident occurred.

Her coaches and professors described her as a special young woman who excelled in both the classroom and gym, college President Joe Berolino said in a written statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss,” he said.

People the family has met by traveling to gymnastics events around the country are giving support that is “holding us up,” Coleman’s mother said.

She described her children, which also include two sons older than Melanie, as “inseparable.”

“We’re going to leave an empty space in our photos for her” from now on, Susan Coleman said.