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

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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