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Mark Cavendish warms to Rio bid: ‘Olympic medal is the only thing I’m missing’

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Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish, a 26-time Tour de France stage winner, seems intent to pursuing the Rio 2016 Olympics, after casting major doubt in January.

“It has got to the point that even if it’s in synchronized swimming … an Olympic medal is the only thing I’m missing,” the two-time Olympian said earlier this month, according to the Telegraph.

Cavendish, 30, had medal hopes evaporate at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.

In 2008, Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins finished ninth in track cycling’s madison after winning the World Championship five months earlier. Cavendish was the only British track cycling team member not to win a medal in Beijing.

In 2012, Cavendish was the hope to win Great Britain’s first gold medal of the London Games in the road race. He finished 29th.

In January, Cavendish said he wanted to try for a third Olympics, but it would be hard.

“I can’t do it on the road [the Rio road race course doesn’t suit his sprinting prowess], can’t do it in the time trial, and on the track there’s just no way to qualify without quitting the road,” he said then, according to the BBC.

But Cavendish returned to track cycling in August with a plan on competing in the omnium, a six-race event, to be eligible to qualify for the Olympic team if that’s the route he wanted to take in the next year.

“It’d be nice to have an Olympic medal, just to stop people banging on about it,” Cavendish said in August, according to British media.

An Olympic qualification attempt would be just that — an attempt with no certain spot available. Cavendish’s 2008 event, the madison, is no longer part of the Olympic program.

Great Britain selectors can only send one man to the Olympics in Cavendish’s new preferred event, the omnium. Cavendish may have to earn that spot over the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, Ed Clancy, who was also part of the nation’s gold medal-winning team pursuit squad in 2008 and 2012.

“I’ve got to be totally honest,” Great Britain team technical director Shane Sutton said in August, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It’s not going to be easy for [Cavendish].”

Cavendish is believed to narrow any gap to Clancy thanks to a tweak in the omnium format to favor his abilities, but British reports say the Olympic omnium man would also have to be part of the team pursuit squad, at least as a reserve rider. Cavendish’s team pursuit experience is limited.

“Look if it was the old omnium, as it was at the last Olympics, Ed would be going, 100 percent,” Cavendish said, according to the Telegraph.

Clancy prevailed in Cavendish’s return to the track in August.

“The preferred option is Ed Clancy as he is also the strongest guy in the team pursuit,” British cycling endurance coach Heiko Salzwedel said in an August Telegraph report. “The team pursuit is still our priority event. There are too many uncontrollables in the omnium. The team pursuit is controllable, and we will not make any sacrifices.”

MORE CYCLING: Can Tour de France stars contend for medals at 2016 Olympics?

Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

MORE: NHL players vote on world’s best female hockey player

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