One year out: What’s new for Rio 2016

Carlin Isles
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The Rio Olympics will include two sports returning to the Games for the first time in nearly a century.

Golf, last played at St. Louis 1904, and rugby, last played at Paris 1924, were added to the Olympic program in 2009, with implementation happening in 2016.

The Rio Olympic golf tournaments will be individual 72-hole stroke-play affairs, with separate men’s and women’s fields of 60 golfers each.

The fields will be determined by world rankings with a maximum of four men or women per nation (and no more than two if at least one of the golfers is outside the top 15 in the world rankings).

There will very likely be U.S. men’s and women’s golfers and South Korean women’s golfers in the world top 20 who don’t qualify for Rio 2016. To fill the field of 60, the qualifying procedure will likely dip into the 300s or 400s in the rankings.

The men’s tournament will run in the first week of the Games from Aug. 11-14 (Thursday-Sunday). The women’s tournament will be in the second week from Aug. 17-20 (Wednesday-Saturday).

The Rio Olympic rugby fields will include 12 men’s and women’s nations, including the U.S. in both genders. The women’s medal matches will come first (Aug. 8) followed by the men’s (Aug. 11).

It’s a different kind of rugby than previously played at the Olympics. The Rio version is rugby sevens, with seven players per side (versus 15 for the 20th-century version) and seven-minute halves with a short halftime break.

Other changes you might notice at the Rio Olympics, the first Games in South America:

* Kosovo and South Sudan marching in the Opening Ceremony for the first time.

* The first Olympians born in the year 2000.

* Boxers no longer wearing headgear, and some professional boxers competing.

* Roger Federer and Martina Hingis playing doubles.

* A total of 13 morning track and field finals.

* One fewer men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling weight class and two more women’s freestyle weight classes to make it six each for men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Watch NBC Olympics one year out promo video

Noah Lyles clips Trayvon Bromell in personal best at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix

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Noah Lyles got his 2023 off to a personal-best start, beating Trayvon Bromell in a photo finish in the 60m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Boston on Saturday.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, ran 6.51 seconds. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, also ran 6.51. Lyles prevailed by two thousandths of a second.

“I’ve been waiting on this for a long time,” Lyles, whose personal best was 6.55, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Lyles is running the 60m to better his start as he bids to add the 100m to his 200m slate come the outdoor season that starts in the spring.

Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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