Fabiana Murer

Brazil’s track and field star can make amends at Worlds after saying, ‘I’m never coming back to China’

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Brazil is expected to win 20 to 30 medals at the Rio 2016 Games, perhaps 10 golds, and its top hope for an Olympic title in track and field is pole vaulter Fabiana Murer.

Murer, though, can only associate heartbreak with her two previous Olympic experiences.

The former gymnast entered the Beijing 2008 Games as the third-ranked pole vaulter in the world for the year and easily became the first Brazilian to qualify for an Olympic women’s pole vault final (the event debuted at Sydney 2000).

But Murer could not find one of her poles during the Beijing final — the one she aimed to use to clear 4.55 meters, later found in a locker for equipment used by athletes already eliminated, according to The Associated Press — decided to skip the 4.55m height after a fruitless, several-minutes search and then failed at all three attempts at 4.65m.

Murer had cleared 4.80m less than two months before the Beijing Olympics, a height that earned American Jenn Suhr silver at the Bird’s Nest that night. Murer left the iconic venue in 10th place, and in tears.

“I’m never coming back to China,” Murer reportedly said.

Murer has said she intends to break her word in August by traveling back to the Bird’s Nest for the World Championships. It will be her first competition in China since the 2008 Olympics, according to the track and field database Tilastopaja.org, and at the same venue.

In the last seven years, Murer became the first Brazilian to win a World Track and Field Championship (2011). She was consistently among the world’s three best pole vaulters, except at the London 2012 Olympics and Moscow 2013 World Championships.

In London, Murer shockingly failed to qualify for the 12-woman final after entering the competition as the third-ranked woman for the year.

She was shaken by windy conditions and aborted her final attempt at 4.55 meters while on the runway, for which she was criticized by Brazilians, including two-time Olympic volleyball medalist Gustavo on Twitter, and said she did the best she could on her Facebook page.

Brazil failed to win any Olympic track and field medals for the first time since 1992.

In Moscow in 2013, Murer finished fifth, failing to clear 4.75 meters, an indicative result for a season when she failed to clear any height greater than 4.75 for the first time since 2007.

Like in Beijing, Murer’s finishes in London and Moscow brought her to tears, according to Brazilian media.

But Murer, now 34, found success the last two seasons as the oldest woman among the elite dozen on the global circuit.

She had the three highest clearances in the world in 2014 and won the season-long Diamond League title. This year, she ranks second to the 2012 Olympic champion Suhr in best clearances and beat the American at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York last weekend, where she answered a few questions after the competition before visiting The Guggenheim:

OlympicTalk: Who would you pick to light the cauldron at the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony?

Murer: Of course I would take a track and field athlete. Joaquim Cruz was a great athlete, winning a gold medal in the Olympics [in the 800m at Los Angeles 1984] and another silver medal [in 1988]. I think he’s a great athlete to choose. Another one would be Pele.

OlympicTalk: Which Brazilian athlete, outside of the soccer players, will have the most pressure to succeed at the Rio Olympics?

Murer: In swimming, Cesar Cielo. Of course, he has medals [already, three total from 2008 and 2012], so it’s more pressure on him.

OlympicTalk: Where were you in October 2009 when Rio was chosen as host of the 2016 Olympics?

Murer: I was on vacation. I just arrived on the beach close to Recife. I just arrived in the hotel, and I was trying to see if Brazil won. Then I saw the news, and I began to receive many calls to speak about this. It was really an emotional time.

OlympicTalk: Will the Rio Olympics be your final competition?

Murer: I will finish after 2016. The Olympics, and then maybe two or three meets. I hope to compete in the last Diamond League [meet of 2016].

Before, I was thinking to retire after 2014. And then, when Brazil was selected to be the host of the Olympics, I decided to continue to 2016. I want to have this experience in my country. Of course, it’s a lot of pressure, but in the same way, it’s a lot of support from the Brazilians.

OlympicTalk: We didn’t see much from you in 2012 and 2013. What’s changed the last two years?

Murer: 2012 was a difficult year for me. I had some injuries. I trained and was in good shape during the Olympics, but I had some problems with my technique. I think my technique went down because of this. In 2013, I got good results, didn’t jump very high, but I liked the results. Then, last year, I began to grow again. I put in my mind that this cycle for the Olympics was to grow during the years. So I’m hoping to jump even higher next year.

OlympicTalk: Is the goal for the Olympics to win a gold medal, or any medal?

Murer: Any medal will be OK, because I don’t have one Olympic medal. So I just want a medal. It doesn’t matter the color.

Lolo Jones’ outlook not good to make World Championships

Anna van der Breggen is first cyclist to sweep road world titles in 25 years

Anna van der Breggen
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Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen added the road race crown to her time trial victory at the world road cycling championships, becoming the second rider in history to win both events at the same edition.

“This is, for me, pretty good so far,” she said.

Van der Breggen, the Rio Olympic road race champion, won after a solo attack with more than 25 miles left of an 89-mile course in Imola, Italy, on Saturday.

She prevailed after more than four hours of racing by 80 seconds over countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, the 2019 champion. Van Vleuten raced nine days after breaking her left wrist in a Giro Rosa crash.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini took bronze in the same time as van Vleuten after losing a photo-finish sprint. Lauren Stephens was the top American in 11th.

Full results are here.

The race lacked American standout Chloé Dygert, who crashed out of the time trial while leading on Thursday and required leg surgery.

Van der Breggen joined Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo as the only male or female cyclists to sweep the time trial and road race at a single worlds. Longo did so in 1995 at age 36.

Van der Breggen, 30, said in May that she will retire after the 2021 Olympic season.

It will be the end of one of the great cycling careers. She is now a three-time world champion and nine-time world medalist to go along with her road race gold and time trial bronze in her Olympic debut in Rio.

Worlds conclude Sunday with the men’s road race. A TV and stream schedule is here.

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MORE: A more equal future for women’s cycling? Lizzie Deignan has high hopes

2020 French Open TV, live stream schedule

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Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams can each tie Grand Slam singles titles records at the French Open, with daily live coverage among NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel.

NBC coverage starts Sunday with first-round action at Roland Garros, its 38th straight year covering the event. Tennis Channel airs the majority of weekday coverage. Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, has middle weekend broadcasts.

All NBC TV coverage alo streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Nadal is the primary men’s storyline, favored to tie Roger Federer‘s male record of 20 major titles and extend his own record of 12 French Open crowns. Federer is absent after knee operations earlier this year.

The Spaniard’s primary competition is top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion whose only defeat in 2020 was a U.S. Open default for hitting a ball that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Williams bids again to match the overall Grand Slam singles mark of 24 held by Australian Margaret Court. Williams, a three-time French Open champion, lost in the third and fourth round the last two years and is coming off a U.S. Open semifinal exit.

The women’s field is led by 2018 champion Simona Halep but lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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MORE: How Jay-Z, Beyonce helped Naomi Osaka come out of her shell

French Open TV Schedule

Date Time (ET) Network Round
Sunday, Sept. 27 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
12-3 p.m. NBC
Monday, Sept. 28 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Tuesday, Sept. 29 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Wednesday, Sept. 30 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Thursday, Oct. 1 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Friday, Oct. 2 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
Saturday, Oct. 3 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Sunday, Oct. 4 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Monday, Oct. 5 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Tuesday, Oct. 6 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Oct. 7 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Thursday, Oct. 8 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Channel Women’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Friday, Oct. 9 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel Men’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 10 9 a.m. NBC Women’s Final
Sunday, Oct. 11 9 a.m. NBC Men’s Final