Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy compares golf, tennis at the Olympics

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Rory McIlroy is among the golfers who puts the Olympics below the level of the four majors, but he thinks the sport’s popularity at the Games has potential.

“As things stand, Rio promises to be a great experience,” McIlroy said last week, according to the Irish Independent. “Golf will need to be back in the Olympics for a while, however, before it becomes a bigger event for us, as has been the case with tennis.

“Though I’d love to win Olympic gold, it’s not as if we’re going to get the full buzz of the event like the athletes will over a span of three weeks after preparing for four years. We golfers will be in and out in a week.”

McIlroy, 26 and of Northern Ireland, announced in June that he would represent Ireland rather than Great Britain at the Rio Olympics, golf’s return to the Games after a 112-year absence.

He is ranked No. 3 in the world and is all but assured of earning a spot in the 60-man Olympic field come the July 11 rankings cutoff date.

McIlroy has Olympic tennis experience, as a spectator. He attended the London 2012 Games to watch then-girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play for Denmark and even visited the athletes’ village.

Tennis returned to the Olympics as a medal sport in 1988 for the first time since 1924, but several top players missed the event at Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 for various reasons and not just injuries.

At least two top-three singles players missed the Olympics each of those years.

Missing stars included Mats WilanderIvan LendlAndre AgassiBoris Becker and Martina Navratilova in 1988, Monica Seles and Navratilova in 1992, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf in 1996 and Sampras and Martina Hingis in 2000.

The tennis turnout improved starting at Athens 2004, with five of the top six men and the top three women competing.

In 2008, the top eight men and the top three women showed up to Beijing (though No. 1 Ana Ivanovic withdrew on site due to a thumb injury).

In 2012, 18 of the men’s and women’s top-10 players competed on the lawns of Wimbledon.

For Rio, there have been no widespread reports of any of the current men’s or women’s top-five golfers questioning whether they would compete at the Olympics.

“Not to play? It would have been a very selfish decision,” McIlroy said in June. “It wouldn’t have been good for the game of golf at all. If we as a golf community want golf to succeed in the Olympics, you need to have your best players playing. I realized that pretty quickly. Obviously it was an option, but was it ever going to be an option that I would decide to choose; no.”

MORE: Masters champ still outspoken about Olympic golf

Morgan Hurd left off U.S. gymnastics team for world championships

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Simone Biles is joined on the U.S. team for the world gymnastics championships by five women bidding to make their first Olympic team next year.

Sunisa LeeKara EakerJade Carey, Grace McCallum and MyKayla Skinner were named to the team at the conclusion of selection camp competition Monday in Sarasota, Fla. Biles locked up the first spot by winning an all-around competition on Sunday.

A notable omission was Morgan Hurd, the 2017 World all-around champion in Biles’ absence who was fourth in the all-around at the U.S. Championships in August and ninth at the selection camp on Sunday. Hurd, who came back from December elbow surgery, was named a non-traveling alternate along with Leanne Wong.

Had Hurd made the team, she could have bid to join Biles as the only women to earn all-around medals at three straight world championships. Instead, her absence is a testament to the U.S. women’s depth.

The Americans won every Olympic or world team title dating to 2011, the longest reign of dominance since Soviet teams of the 1970s. Last year, their margin of victory — 8.766 points — was the largest in history at an Olympics or worlds.

A look at the six women on this year’s team, one of which will be designated an on-site alternate at worlds in Stuttgart, Germany:

Simone Biles
Undefeated in all-around competitions for six years, Biles will break more records in Stuttgart. The biggest one is career world championships medals. Biles is at 20, tied with Svetlana Khorkina for the female record. The overall record is 23, held by retired Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo. Last year, Biles became the first gymnast to earn medals in every event at worlds in 31 years and won the all-around by a record margin despite two falls and a kidney stone.

Sunisa Lee
The revelation of this summer. Lee went from third in the junior division at last year’s nationals to second to Biles both at nationals in August and in Sunday’s selection competition. At the latter, Lee was only .35 of a point behind Biles, closer than any of Biles’ last five margins of victory at nationals. She is the national champion on uneven bars and the youngest woman on the team at 16.

Kara Eaker
Eaker solidified her spot by placing third at the selection camp with a score that would have been runner-up to Biles on either day at nationals. Eaker was 10th at nationals with scores more than two points lower than what she did on Sunday. She is a medal contender on balance beam. Eaker had the second-highest beam score in qualifying at worlds last year but fell off the apparatus in the final, placing sixth.

Jade Carey
The 2017 World silver medalist on floor and vault. Carey decided last year to try to make the Olympic team on her own individually — a new wrinkle in Olympic qualifying this cycle — which precluded her from competing at the 2018 Worlds. She’s well on her way to clinching an Olympic spot before June’s trials, but first she will be an asset to this team as its second-ranked floor and vault gymnast behind Biles.

MyKayla Skinner
The 2016 Olympic alternate pulled off the rare feat of making a world team while being an NCAA gymnast (at Utah). Skinner returned to elite gymnastics this season for the first time since Rio and impressed Sunday, placing fourth in the all-around. Like Carey, she specializes on floor and vault.

Grace McCallum
McCallum was third in the all-around at nationals and sixth at the selection camp. The 2018 World team member is best known for her floor, too. She was seventh in qualifying at 2018 Worlds on the event but missed the final due to the two-per-country rule.

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MORE: U.S. men’s team named for gymnastics worlds

Tommie Smith, John Carlos part of U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame class

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Tommie Smith and John Carlos are part of the 2019 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame class that will be inducted later this year.

The sprinters were sent home from the 1968 Mexico City Games after staging a protest by raising their gloved fists on the medals stand. They were long left on the sidelines at the USOPC, but the federation has worked to bring them back inside the family in recent years.

“It sends the message that maybe we had to go back in time and make some conscious decisions about whether we were right or wrong,” Carlos said, according to USA Today. “They’ve come to the conclusion that, ‘Hey man, we were wrong. We were off-base in terms of humanity relative to the human rights era.'”

The class will be inducted at a ceremony in Colorado Springs on Nov. 1. It will be the first class inducted since 2012.

The rest of the class: Candace Cable, Erin Popovich, Chris Waddell (Paralympics), Lisa Leslie (basketball), Nastia Liukin (gymnastics), Misty May-Treanor (beach volleyball), Apolo Anton Ohno (short track speedskating), Dara Torres (swimming), the 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team), Ron O’Brien (diving coach) and Tim Nugent (special contributor).

After the Hall of Fame essentially stalled out, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland pushed to revive it as part of a federation effort to focus more on athletes.

“We thank them for their impact on sport and society, and for continuing to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans,” Hirshland said.

The induction of Smith and Carlos is long overdue. After being kicked out of the 1968 Olympics for their iconic raised-fist protest on the medals stand, the sprinters were left on the sideline of the official U.S. Olympic movement. Their 2016 visit to the White House, along with USOPC leaders, marked the first official event they’d been part of since their ouster in 1968.

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