Abby Wambach

Predicting U.S. Olympic women’s soccer roster based off World Cup

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It’s possible, arguably likely, that the entire 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team will be made up of 2015 Women’s World Cup players, in part because the Olympic roster maximum is 18 players, versus 23 for the World Cup.

Take a look at history. Women’s soccer debuted at the Olympics in 1996. In five Olympics, an average of 3.4 players per Games made the U.S. Olympic team after not being on the previous year’s World Cup team.

But that was when World Cup roster sizes were 20 or 21 players, making it tougher to pull off the World Cup-Olympic double.

Unsurprisingly, most of those Americans who made the Olympics after missing the World Cup were young.

Of the 17 combined players who made the Olympics after missing the previous year’s World Cup, 13 of them were age 23 or younger.

Two of the four outliers were Heather Mitts, who missed the 2003 and 2007 World Cup after injuries. One was 25-year-old goalie Kristin Luckenbill in 2004.

Excluding the injury-riddled Mitts, the only field player over age 23 to make the Olympics after missing the World Cup was Brandi Chastain, as a 27-year-old at Atlanta 1996 (and the only 23-year-old, Michelle French, was a late replacement for the retiring Michelle Akers less than one month before Sydney 2000).

In 2012, the U.S. Olympic team of 18 players included 17 players from the 2011 World Cup roster of 21. The single newcomer was forward Sydney Leroux, who would have been the youngest player on the 2011 World Cup team, had she made it.

This year, the last two cuts from the World Cup team were defenders Rachel Van Hollebeke, who turns 30 in August, and Crystal Dunn, who turns 23 in July.

In 2016, both Van Hollebeke and Dunn will be older than any field player who made a U.S. Olympic team after missing a World Cup team in good health since Chastain in 1996.

Perhaps the most intriguing Olympic hopeful not at the World Cup is Lindsey Horan, a 21-year-old recovering from microfracture surgery on one of her knees in the winter.

Horan turned professional after high school, skipping college to play in Europe, a decision that may have hindered her U.S. national team possibilities even before the knee surgery.

However, Horan plays forward, a stacked position. On the World Cup team is Abby Wambach, the 35-year-old who’s not committing to a run to Rio, plus Morgan, Leroux, Christen Press, three stars 26 and younger, and Amy Rodriguez.

In 2012, defender Christie Rampone became the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s soccer player ever at age 37, according to sports-reference, and the first four-time Olympian in program history. She’s on the U.S. World Cup roster but did not play in the 3-1 opening win over Australia on Monday.

Here’s the U.S. World Cup team and therefore the likeliest of U.S. Olympic hopefuls:

Goalkeepers: Hope Solo, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher

Defenders: Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Lori Chalupny, Whitney Engen, Kelley O’Hara

Midfielders: Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Heather O’Reilly

Forwards: Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez

Abby Wambach on Rio Olympics: That’s a decision for next year

Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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MORE: Olympic marathon moved from Tokyo to another Olympic host city

Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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MORE: U.S. luge star adds doubles after Olympic singles medal