Rick Pitino to coach Puerto Rico basketball team eyeing Olympics

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Hall of Famer Rick Pitino will coach Puerto Rico’s men’s basketball team as it hopes to qualify for its first Olympics since 2004.

Pitino, 62 and the current Louisville coach, will guide the Puerto Ricans at the Pan American Games in Toronto in July and, more importantly for Olympic qualification, at FIBA Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, in August and September.

At Athens 2004, Puerto Rico crushed the U.S. 92-73 in the Americans’ most lopsided loss in Olympic or World Championships history. Puerto Rico, which has never won an Olympic basketball medal, ended up losing in the quarterfinals.

Two Olympic berths are available at FIBA Americas this summer. The U.S. is already qualified, and Brazil is likely to be given a spot in the Rio 2016 tournament as host nation, so Puerto Rico shouldn’t have to worry about either of those nations.

Instead, it should be fighting for an Olympic spot with 2004 Olympic champion Argentina, upstart Canada, the Dominican Republic (with Al Horford, potentially) and host Mexico.

Puerto Rico could field a roster including players with NBA experience, namely J.J. BareaRenaldo Balkman, Daniel Santiago and Carlos Arroyo.

If it doesn’t finish in the top two at FIBA Americas, Puerto Rico could get another chance to make it to Rio via a last-chance global qualifying tournament in 2016.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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