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Baseball qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Games would be tricky

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ROME (AP) — If baseball rejoins the Olympics for the 2020 Tokyo Games, just qualifying for the tournament could be a challenge.

Under Tokyo’s recommendations, the men’s baseball competition would consist of just six teams — two less than the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s proposal.

WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari told The Associated Press on Friday that, in addition to host and automatic qualifier Japan, one team would qualify by winning the 2019 Premier 12 tournament.

The other four entrants could be determined by continental qualifying tournaments: two from the Americas, one from Europe-Africa and one from Asia-Oceania.

The toughest competition could come in an Americas tournament featuring the United States, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Panama and Venezuela.

“It’s going to be a battle to the last out,” Fraccari said.

Under the current plan, the 2017 World Baseball Classic will have no impact on the Olympic tournament. That will give more importance to the Premier 12, a tournament Fraccari devised for the top-12 ranked nations.

The first edition of the Premier 12 will be held in Japan and Taiwan next month.

Fraccari is still holding out hope that his original Olympic proposal of eight teams can be revived.

“There’s still a chance, depending on the number of athletes,” he said.

 

A combined baseball-softball bid was among five additional sports recommended last month by Tokyo organizers. Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing were the others.

The International Olympic Committee will make a final decision in August.

The IOC voted in 2005 to remove baseball and softball after the 2008 Beijing Games. As separate bids, the two sports failed to return for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Baseball and softball merged into a single confederation two years ago.

MORE BASEBALL: Mark McGwire remembers Olympic baseball boom in 1984

Bolt’s London Olympic spikes stolen

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DERBY, England (AP) A signed pair of running shoes worn by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt has been stolen from an address in Linton, Derbyshire.

The white, blue and red spikes were used by the Jamaican great in a 100 meters heat at the 2012 Games, Derbyshire Police said.

“The spikes are part of an extensive collection that I have built-up over the last 10 years,” the victim said. “There are only four or five pairs of spikes that have been signed from the London 2012 Olympics, they are absolutely irreplaceable.”

The victim did not want to be named.

A 35-year-old man has been charged in connection with the theft. The shoes have yet to be recovered.

Bolt, 31, who retired after the 2017 world championships in London, won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay titles at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics, although he later lost the 2008 relay gold after a team-mate was disqualified for doping.

Anne Donovan, basketball Hall of Famer, gold medalist, dies at 56

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Anne Donovan, a Hall of Fame basketball player and Olympic gold medalist, has died of heart failure at age 56.

Donovan coached the Storm to a 2004 WNBA title.

“While it is extremely difficult to express how devastating it is to lose Anne, our family remains so very grateful to have been blessed with such a wonderful human being,” Donovan’s family said in a statement, according to reports. “Anne touched many lives as a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and coach.

Donovan, a 6-foot-8 center, made the 1980 U.S. Olympic team (as its youngest player after her freshman year at Old Dominion) that ended up missing the Moscow Games due to the U.S. boycott.

She then earned gold with the U.S. in 1984 and 1988, being the oldest player on the latter team at 26. She was inducted as a player into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Donovan later was an assistant coach for the 2004 Olympic champion team and head coach for the 2008 Beijing team that took gold. She also was the first female head coach of a WNBA champion team with the Storm in 2004.

“USA Basketball mourns the passing of Anne Donovan,” USA Basketball said in a statement. “She played for her first USA Basketball team in 1977 and during her Hall of Fame, 31-year USA career, she was a member of five U.S. Olympic teams and four USA World Championship teams as an athlete and coach, culminating in leading the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team to gold as our head coach in Beijing. She used to say she bled red, white and blue. As much as we remember her accomplishments in the game, we mourn a great friend who will be greatly missed.”