Lolo Jones
AP

Lolo Jones makes brief bobsled return, may come back later

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Lolo Jones pushed a sled in competition for the first time since the Sochi Olympics on Friday and, though she is not expected to compete this bobsled World Cup season, has not ruled out returning to the winter sport after the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

In June, Jones said she was “very valuable” to U.S. Bobsled because of a rule change reducing the maximum combined weight for a two-woman bobsled and crews by 66 pounds, a change that will phase in over the next two seasons, according to U.S. Bobsled.

Jones’ track and field weight is about 30 pounds lighter than her bobsled weight, so she would not have to gain as much weight this time switching back to bobsled after trying to make her third Summer Olympic team next year. Or not gain any weight at all.

“My goal is longevity, and I’ll be in a position to help the team down the line when the new rule is in place,” Jones said, according to a press release. “I’ll be honest, it’s tough pushing a bobsled at the weight I’m at now, which is a lot lighter than I was in Sochi, but I’ll be able to adjust.”

On Friday, Jones finished third in the U.S. Bobsled Push Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she totaled 9.58 seconds over two pushes and was .05 behind winner Lauren Gibbs. She did so after one day of push track training.

“My focus is on the Rio Olympics, and oddly enough training for a winter sport helps compliment that perfectly,” Jones said, according to the press release.

Olympic medalists Elana Meyers Taylor and Steven Holcomb won the national push titles for drivers and are expected to compete in bobsled this season, unlike Jones.

Jones finished 11th at the Sochi Olympics, becoming one of 10 Americans to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

She will turn 34 years old on the day of the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony. Her chances of making the U.S. Olympic team may be tougher in 2016 than 2018, given she was 10th fastest in the 100m hurdles semifinals at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in June and failed to finish in the final. The top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials in July make the Rio team.

The U.S. sent three push athletes to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

On Friday, Jones was the only Olympic women’s push athlete to compete. Lauryn Williams, who pushed for Meyers Taylor in Sochi to a silver medal, has retired. Aja Evans said after her Sochi bronze medal that she would pursue track and field’s heptathlon.

“[Jones] hasn’t pushed a bobsled since Sochi, so to have her come out here and do her thing after just one day of training only brings the level of the team up,” Meyers Taylor said. “We’re all supportive of her pursuing her run to Rio and excited to see her crushing it on the track, but we’re even more excited for her to come back to bobsled one day.”

The World Cup bobsled season starts in late November.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Lolo Jones inspired by Gail Devers

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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