Rio Olympics have first qualified entries

Germany equestrian

The first nations to qualify spots in the Rio 2016 Olympics were Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Germany won the team dressage event at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, on Tuesday. Great Britain won silver, and the Netherlands bronze in the first competition among all sports to qualify spots for Rio de Janeiro in two years, according to The Associated Press.

The same three nations made up the 2012 Olympic podium in team dressage.

The U.S. was fourth Tuesday, just missing the medals and automatic Rio qualification. The U.S. placed sixth in team dressage at London 2012 and hasn’t won a dressage medal since team bronze in 2004. Dressage is the only equestrian discipline in which the U.S. has never won Olympic gold.

While Tuesday marked the first spots qualified, the first specific athletes named to the Rio Olympics are still to come. Also, Olympic host nations generally receive automatic (or very easily attainable) qualification in most sports.

The World Equestrian Games continue through Sept. 7.

Of notable absence at the competition is U.S. show jumper Jessica Springsteen, the 22-year-old daughter of Bruce Springsteen. She was placed on the U.S.’ nominative list to compete but did not make the final cut of five riders. Watch her name as an Olympic hopeful over the next two years as she gains experience.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan

Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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