Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann, Olympic bronze medalist, focuses on U.S. Soccer qualifying for Rio

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Jurgen Klinsmann won a pair of international prizes in his German playing career that he would like to deliver to the U.S. Soccer program — a World Cup, of course, but also an Olympic medal.

Klinsmann, a member of the 1988 West German Olympic team that won bronze in Seoul (pictured to the right), said “the main task for 2015 definitely is the Olympic team,” according to reports citing audio distributed by U.S. Soccer.

Klinsmann coaches the U.S. Men’s National Team that’s eyeing the 2015 Gold Cup, but as U.S. Soccer’s technical director he realizes the importance of the Olympics.

The Olympic team will not be the World Cup-level senior national team, but instead at least primarily — if not wholly — members of the Under-23 team that does not currently have a full-time head coach.

The U.S. U23 team cruelly missed the 2012 Olympics, giving up a stoppage-time goal in CONCACAF qualifying to El Salvador when it was seconds away from advancing to a winner-goes-to-London match.

“We want to make sure what happened with London 2012 doesn’t happen again,” Klinsmann said.

The U.S. hasn’t won an Olympic men’s soccer medal since 1904, when only three teams competed at the St. Louis Games. Two of those three were U.S. teams.

Klinsmann’s “main task for 2015” comment is particularly interesting given the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament is not scheduled to happen in 2015, but instead in March 2016, according to this Olympic soccer qualifying procedure document.

Qualifying could be easier this time around. In 2012, CONCACAF had two berths for the Olympics. In 2016, it gets 2.5, meaning the third-place nation from the Olympic qualifying tournament will play a South American nation in a winner-goes-to-Rio match.

At the Seoul 1988 Olympics, Klinsmann was 24 years old when he scored a hat trick for West Germany to beat Zambia in the quarterfinals (highlights here). Zambia had shocked Italy 4-0 earlier in the tournament.

West Germany went on to lose to Brazil in the semifinals. Brazil’s roster included the great Romario, whose late equalizer helped force the Brazil-West Germany match to a penalty shootout. Klinsmann’s penalty kick struck the post (watch here). West Germany beat Italy in the bronze-medal match.

Two years later, Klinsmann and West Germany won the World Cup.

If the 1988 Olympics were played under today’s Olympic rules, Klinsmann might not have been on the team. The 1988 Olympics were the last Games before the 23-and-under rule was instituted.

If the U.S. qualifies for the Rio Olympics, its roster must be made up of players who will be no older than 23 in 2016 — with three exceptions for over-age players.

Nations have added stars with those exceptions — such as Ryan Giggs for Team Great Britain and Thiago Silva and Hulk for Brazil in 2012.

In 2008, the U.S. added three-time World Cup forward Brian McBride as an over-age player, two years after his retirement from the senior national team. That was before Klinsmann joined the program.

In 2016, the U.S. could put 2014 World Cup players John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin on the Olympic roster without using over-age spots.

15 Olympic sports events to watch in 2015

Simone Biles discusses anxiety medicine, therapy in up-and-down year

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Simone Biles sees a therapist regularly and takes medication for anxiety, acknowledging mental-health struggles.

Biles was asked on “Good Morning America” how she has processed standing up as a Larry Nassar survivor on Jan. 15.

“I’m on anxiety medicine now because I had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year, trying to figure out what was wrong,” Biles said. “So I go to therapy pretty regularly. It’s not easy, but the people surrounding me are some of the best.”

Biles is an experienced mental-health advocate.

Last year, she partnered with the #BeUnderstood campaign for Learning Disabilities and ADHD Awareness Month in October. She spoke with two sisters who have ADHD about her own experience with ADHD since age 9.

Biles appeared on Tuesday’s morning show to reveal her ESPN the Magazine cover for being named the most dominant athlete of 2018.

Biles, after taking 14 months off from training, swept all five titles at the U.S. Championships, then became the first gymnast to earn medals on every event at a world championships in 31 years.

She is not expected to compete again before March.

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Mikael Kingsbury named Canada Athlete of the Year

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Mikael Kingsbury, the Olympic moguls champion, is the first freestyle skier to win the Lou Marsh Trophy, Canada’s athlete of the year award.

Kingsbury, 26, dominated in PyeongChang, receiving the highest scores for time, turns and air moves in the final to win by 4.06 points. It marked the first instance in moguls history that a man topped the final field in all three categories that make up the total score, albeit the format moved from a 20-skier final to a six-skier final in 2014.

Kingsbury also finished first or second in all eight World Cup moguls or dual moguls events so far in 2018. He’s up to 50 World Cup victories, breaking the moguls record shared by U.S. Olympic champions Donna Weinbrecht and Hannah Kearney.

The other reported Lou Marsh finalists were:

Brooke Henderson, Golf: Second in the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe
Kaitlyn Lawes, Curling: Olympic mixed doubles, world women’s titles
Connor McDavid, Hockey: 2017-18 NHL points leader, most outstanding player
Kaetlyn Osmond, Figure Skating: Olympic bronze medalist, world champion

The Lou Marsh Trophy went to an Olympian 15 times in the last 20 years, most recently Olympic 100m freestyle swimming champion Penny Oleksiak in 2016. Winners in Winter Olympic years included speed skaters Catriona LeMay Doan (2002) and Cindy Klassen (2006) and bobsledder Kaillie Humphries (2014), all gold medalists those years.

That history worked against Henderson and McDavid, who didn’t have an Olympics in 2018. Osmond had arguably the best year for an individual Canadian figure skater with her three major medals, but Russians Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva beat her in PyeongChang.

Lawes led all women in shooting percentage in the first Olympic mixed-doubles event and led her team (skipped by Sochi Olympic champ skip Jennifer Jones) in shooting in the gold-medal game of the world championship a month later.

Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were ineligible for the individual award together, according to Canadian media.

The Lou Marsh Trophy, named after the former Toronto Star sports editor and columnist, is annually voted on by Canadian sports journalists.

MORE: U.S. figure skating rankings going into nationals

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