Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan and the Olympics

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Landon Donovan became an Olympian before the first of his three World Cups, first of his 57 senior international goals and first of his 156 U.S. Men’s National Team caps.

Donovan, then 18 and blond-haired, was the youngest member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic men’s soccer team that finished fourth at the Sydney Games. Olympic men’s soccer is for players age 23 and younger, with three over-age exceptions.

He flew to Australia with a pedigree, having won the Golden Ball as MVP of the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, where the U.S. was also fourth.

Donovan did not play in the first two U.S. Olympic matches, draws with the Czech Republic and Cameroon, which led fans, including Donovan’s father, to criticize coach Clive Charles.

“We need to get him some experience without the press saying, ‘Why isn’t he playing?'” Charles told The New York Times. “My job is to find the best time to play him.”

Donovan was dubbed the “18-year-old wonder” by the New York Daily News.

“Donovan sat Wednesday, for 90 minutes plus injury time, because Charles didn’t think he was ready for the pressure,” the newspaper reported after the Czech Republic match.

Donovan debuted in the third match, coming off the bench and scoring on a give-and-go with future World Cup teammate Josh Wolff in a 3-1 win over Kuwait in the group-stage finale.

View the goal here, along with the great Andres Cantor‘s signature call. Cantor yelled “Goallllllllllllll!” for 14 seconds, and then again for 10 seconds, as Donovan leaped over signage and sprinted toward the stands.

“We all expected to get through our group,” Donovan reportedly said after the win. “U.S. Soccer’s not at a point anymore where they’re saying, ‘Let’s try to get a win here and pull off a win there.'”

It was the beginning of Donovan growing into the spotlight. He was under contract with Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga at the time, one year before debuting in MLS. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Landon Donovan was on stage at a news conference in the bowels of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday after the U.S, team had defeated Kuwait to advance to the single-elimination portion of the Olympic men’s soccer tournament.

His teammates were on the other side of a barrier, hooting and whistling. Ben Olsen mimicked applying lipstick.

A lot of American soccer fans, desperate for a real hero in their sport, can’t wait to anoint this 18-year-old who plays professionally in Germany as the one.

His teammates treat him a little differently.

“Superstar?” Olsen said when asked about Donovan. “Oh, yeah. We’re going to give it to ‘Superstar’ until he’s 21. He’s got a couple more years of this.”

Donovan also converted his penalty kick in a shootout win over Japan in the quarterfinals. If the U.S. had won either of its last two matches, Donovan would be an Olympic medalist. But it fell to Spain (with a 20-year-old Xavi) in the semifinals and Chile in the bronze-medal match.

The U.S.’ only Olympic men’s soccer medals came at the St. Louis 1904 Games, when all participants won medals as only three club teams from Canada and the U.S. competed.

Tim Howard was also on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team but did not see a minute of game action as a backup to 2002 U.S. World Cup star Brad Friedel.

Donovan earned his first USMNT cap and scored his first senior international goal in the same match less than a month after they Sydney Games, embarking on what many are hailing as the greatest U.S. men’s soccer career of all time ahead of his farewell match Friday night against Ecuador in Hartford, Conn.

The U.S. failed to qualify for Olympic men’s soccer in 2004 and 2012, and Donovan was not one of the over-age players on the Beijing 2008 team that was eliminated in the group stage.

Photos: Sochi Olympic Park ready for Formula One race (photos)

Tokyo Paralympic triathlon test event cancels swim due to water bacteria

AP
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TOKYO (AP) — High levels of bacteria forced the swimming portion of a triathlon test event for the Tokyo Paralympics to be canceled Saturday.

It’s the second setback in the triathlon for organizers of next year’s Olympics and Paralympics. An Olympic triathlon running event was shortened from 10km to 5km on Thursday because of what the International Triathlon Union (ITU) called “extreme levels” of heat.

Tokyo’s hot and humid summers are a major worry for Olympic organizers. The water issues are a reminder of the Rio Games, when high bacteria and virus levels were found in waters for sailing, rowing and open-water swimming.

In a statement, the ITU said E-coli levels were “more than two times over the ITU limits.” It said the water was at Level 4, the highest risk level.

E-coli bacteria, which normally live in the intestines of animals and people, can produce intestinal pain, diarrhea and a fever.

The venue in Tokyo Bay, called Odaiba, has been a concern for organizers, who have experimented with different measures to clean the water in the area, located in an urban part of central Tokyo.

The ITU is scheduled to hold it final test event on Sunday “depending on the latest water quality tests”, it said in a statement.

A few days ago the ITU described water quality conditions at the venue as “very good.” However, swimmers at a recent distance swimming event at the same venue complained of foul-smelling water.

The water temperature at the venue on Saturday was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with the air temperature hovering above 90.

Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said “we are set to conduct a comprehensive review with the international federation.”

He said a triple-layer underwater screen will be installed for next year’s Olympics, replacing a single-layer.

“Based on the results of multiple research in the past, we believe that the multiple layer screen will assure the successful delivery of the competitions,” he said.

Filthy water plagued the Rio Olympics. The South American city lacks a functioning sanitation system for much of its population. Open water there tested high for bacteria and viruses, which confronted athletes in rowing, sailing and triathlon.

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MORE: Double DQ caps bizarre Tokyo Olympic triathlon test event

Women’s hurdlers take center stage as Diamond League hits crunch time; how to watch

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A showdown between world record holder Kendra Harrison (U.S.), reigning Olympic champion Brianna McNeal (U.S.) and 2019 world leader Danielle Williams (Jamaica) in the women’s 100-meter hurdles is the marquee event of the Diamond League meet Sunday in Birmingham, England.

With the track and field world championships not starting this year until Sept. 28, the Diamond League gets an uninterrupted run to its season finales Aug. 29 in Zurich and Sept. 6 in Brussels. The 32 Diamond League events are split between the two finales, with a $50,000 prize awaiting the winner of each final.

The last two meets before those finales — Sunday’s meet and the Aug. 24 meet in Paris — are all about qualifying for a shot at those final jackpots.

Birmingham will be the last chance to win points in the men’s 400m, women’s long jump, women’s 1,500m/mile, men’s javelin, women’s 100m hurdles, men’s 100m and women’s 200m. It’s the second-to-last chance in the women’s discus, women’s pole vault, men’s 400m hurdles, men’s high jump, women’s 3000m steeplechase and women’s 800m.

NBC Sports Gold streams live and commercial-free on Sunday, starting with field events at 7:15 a.m. Eastern and track events kicking off at 9 a.m. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA airs coverage Monday at 4 p.m.

The women’s 100m hurdles also features two Americans who need points to reach the final — Nia Ali and Queen Claye.

Other American athletes aiming to improve solid chances of qualifying include Raevyn Rogers (women’s 800m), Jenn Suhr (women’s pole vault), Mike Rodgers (men’s 100m), Valarie Allman (women’s discus), Michael Cherry (men’s 400m), Kahmari Montgomery (men’s 400m), Vernon Norwood (men’s 400m), David Kendziera (men’s 400m hurdles), Jeron Robinson (men’s high jump) and Courtney Frerichs (women’s 3,000m steeplechase)

Americans who have already qualified in these events include Ajee Wilson (women’s 800m) and Brittney Reese (women’s long jump), both of whom will be competing in Birmingham,

U.S. qualifiers Jenna Prandini (women’s 200m), Emma Coburn (women’s 3,000m steeplechase) and Sandi Morris (women’s pole vault) will not be in Birmingham. Christian Coleman (100m) withdrew from the meet on Friday, spoiling a showdown with Canada’s Andre De Graase and leaving the potential qualification of Jamaica’s Yohan Blake as the most interesting question.

Americans who may qualify in absentia, pending other results, include Justin Gatlin (100m), Noah Lyles (100m), Jenny Simpson (1,500m), Rai Benjamin (400m hurdles), TJ Holmes (400m hurdles), Michael Norman (men’s 400m), Nathan Strother (men’s 400m) and Fred Kerley (men’s 400m).

In a non-Diamond League event, U.S. champion Craig Engels brings his famous mullet to Birmingham in the 1,500 meters.

Here are the Birmingham entry lists and the current Diamond League standings. The schedule (all times Eastern, x-event not counted toward Diamond League standings):

7:45 a.m. — Women’s Discus
8:02 a.m. — Women’s 100m Hurdles Heat A
8:07 a.m. — Women’s Pole Vault
8:14 a.m. — Women’s 100m Hurdles Heat B
8:26 a.m. — x-Men’s 110m Hurdles
8:46 a.m. — Men’s 100m Heat A
8:55 a.m. — Men’s 100m Heat B
9:03 a.m. — Men’s 400m
9:10 a.m. — Women’s Long Jump
9:13 a.m. — Men’s 400m Hurdles
9:19 a.m. — Men’s High Jump
9:23 a.m. — Women’s Mile
9:33 a.m. — x-Women’s 100m
9:38 a.m. — Men’s Javelin
9:43 a.m. — x-Men’s 1,500m
9:55 a.m. — Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase
10:12 a.m. — x-Men’s 800m
10:22 a.m. — Women’s 100m Hurdles Final
10:32 a.m. — Men’s 100m Final
10:41 a.m. — Women’s 800m
10:52 a.m. — Women’s 200m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 8:07 a.m.
Suhr has no Diamond League points but has the world lead at 4.91 meters. Perennial contenders Katerina Stefanidi (Greece) and Yarisley Silva (Cuba) are also competing.

Men’s 400m — 9:03 a.m.
No one has clinched qualification yet, but Cherry is set to compete in Birmingham and should get through. Americans have the top four spots in the standings — Norman, Cherry, Strother and Kerley.

Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase — 9:55 a.m.
World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech and three fellow Kenyans who have all qualified alongside Coburn will have their eyes on records.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 10:22 a.m. final; 8:02 a.m. heats
Most of the top 12 on the world list this year and most of the hurdles who have clinched spots in the final will be here, including Williams and the American trio of Harrison, Sharika Nelvis and Christina Clemons. McNeal, who will run in the world championships with Harrison and Ali, will not qualify.

Women’s 200m — 10:52 a.m.
Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers, who’s aiming for her third straight world championship, has qualified but will race in Birmingham against equally accomplished sprinters Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas), who has won the last two Diamond League titles at this distance and the 2016 Olympic 400-meter gold, and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, whose list of international honors is lengthy.

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