Kerri Walsh Jennings out at least one month, maybe all of 2015, impacting Olympic hopes

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Three-time Olympic beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings will miss at least one month after dislocating her right shoulder in a match for the second time in two months and may need season-ending surgery that could greatly impact her chances of making the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Walsh Jennings is meeting with doctors and collecting information this week after she dislocated her right shoulder at an FIVB World Tour event in Gstaad, Switzerland, on Friday.

Walsh Jennings, a 36-year-old mother of three, previously dislocated the shoulder in a match in Moscow on May 27 and rushed back to play in the World Championships one month later.

“In one scenario, I’m back next year. In one scenario, I’m back in five or six weeks,” Walsh Jennings said in a phone interview Tuesday, adding she really needs surgery, but she’s just not sure when it’ll happen. “I’m still trying to flush out all the details.”

Walsh Jennings, who had four previous right shoulder surgeries, finished Friday’s match after a medical timeout — a sweep with partner April Ross over Brazilian World champions Agatha and Barbara — and pulled out of the tournament before the next day’s semifinals.

Walsh Jennings said the earliest she could return, if she doesn’t have surgery right away, would be at the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., the week of Aug. 18. The final FIVB World Tour event this season is in South Africa in December.

If Walsh Jennings has immediate surgery and misses the rest of the season, she and Ross, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, might have a hard time qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

The main path to Olympic qualifying is through FIVB results from the start of 2015 through June 12, 2016. In that path, pairs must play at least 12 tournaments to be eligible.

Walsh Jennings and Ross have played four events this season. The FIVB 2016 schedule hasn’t been released, but if it’s the same as 2015, it will include six events by mid-June. That would give Walsh Jennings and Ross a maximum of 10 events played, two shy of the minimum requirement.

Even if Walsh Jennings and Ross get to 12, the U.S. may not qualify two pairs for the Olympics through FIVB results. The top 15 pairs, no more than two spots per nation and not including already qualified Brazil, qualify spots for the Rio Olympics in the FIVB results path.

The U.S. currently has no pairs ranked higher than 10th this season (when excluding Brazilian pairs), depending on which FIVB ranking is used.

There will be later qualifying tournaments to round out the Olympic field of 24 pairs (maximum two per nation) in June and July 2016. The U.S. can enter no more than two pairs in those last-chance qualifying tournaments.

Ross is playing this week with Jennifer Fopma at the AVP Kingston NYC Open, the first time the domestic tour has been to Manhattan in 33 years.

Kerri Walsh Jennings on her Super Bowl commercial, toughest loss and brain games

Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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