Lacrosse is charging hard for a 2024 Olympic return

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If lacrosse supporters have their way, their sport will follow in the footsteps of golf — and things in the year 2024 might look a bit like they did back in the first decade of the 20th century.

The FIL Lacrosse Championship begins Thursday, July 10 in Denver, where a record 38 nations will compete. Organizers of the U.S. squad say the high participation rate is a sign that lacrosse is gaining traction in its fight to return to the Olympics.

Lacrosse, like golf, was one of the earliest sports of the modern Olympics. Also like golf, Olympic medals have not been awarded in lacrosse in over 100 years; lacrosse was a medal sport at the 1904 and 1908 Olympics and a demonstration event at the 1948 London Olympics. Golf was a medal event at the 1904 St. Louis Games. But the two sports part ways there, because while lacrosse is still fighting to make its return to the Olympic stage, golf is set to be played in Rio in 2016.

As detailed by Lacrosse Magazine, Team USA took a break from prepping for its opening FIL Championship match against Canada when players and coaches toured the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs Monday night, and it was there they got a taste of what it would be like to be an Olympic team.

FIL director of development Tom Hayes told Lax Magazine that the sport is targeting 2024 for a return to the Olympics, and that several milestones have been met in recent years that have left him hopeful the goal is more than just a pipedream. In the last three years lacrosse has been accepted by SportAccord and the International World Games Association (IWGA), two major international sporting federations, and it was also awarded a berth in the 2017 IWGA World Games, which could serve as a platform to raise its international profile even higher.

“It’s like you’re in a dream. We’ve hit our target dates right on the money, every one of them,” Hayes said. “Now we’re wondering, there has to be some road bump somewhere, but who knows? If you’re a hot sport and they see the growth, not only in the number of countries but number of participants, who knows?”

First grass planted on Rio Olympic golf course

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)