Phil Dalhausser

Phil Dalhausser to miss World Beach Volleyball Championships

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Beijing Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser will miss the World Beach Volleyball Championships that start in three weeks due to a muscle tear suffered last week, partner Sean Rosenthal said.

“Phil is out for a little while, probably at least until Japan,” Rosenthal, a two-time U.S. Olympian, said in this video interview at an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia. The World Tour event in Yokohama, Japan, is July 21-26.

Rosenthal said he will continue playing with Stafford Slick during Dalhausser’s absence on the World Tour but does not yet have a replacement partner lined up for Worlds. Rosenthal and Slick are playing in Croatia this week and Norway next week.

Last week, Dalhausser, 35 and the two-time reigning World Tour player of the year, said he tore his left oblique a little bit during the first set of his last pool-play match at the World Tour Moscow Grand Slam. Dalhausser said he probably made the injury worse by playing through it and underwent an MRI, according to an FIVB press release.

Dalhausser and Rosenthal teamed after Dalhausser and Todd Rogers were eliminated in the 2012 Olympic round of 16, failing to become the first repeat men’s Olympic beach volleyball champions.

Dalhausser and Rosenthal qualified as the No. 2 seed into Worlds but were the top team for all intents and purposes, since the top seed automatically went to a pair from the host nation Netherlands.

They won three World Tour events last season, more than any other pair. At the last World Championships in 2013, they were eliminated in the round of 16.

Rogers, 41, is still active but has said he’s scaling back his international play. Neither Rogers nor Slick is one of the players on the four U.S. pairs entered in the World Championships. Rogers and Slick paired to finish fourth at the season-opening World Tour event in Fuzhou, China, in April, the only semifinal finish by a U.S. duo through the first three events of the season.

Kerri Walsh Jennings also injured

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
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Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

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