Rory McIlroy compares golf, tennis at the Olympics

Rory McIlroy
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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

Summer McIntosh breaks 400m individual medley world record, extends historic week

Summer McIntosh

Canadian swimmer Summer McIntosh broke her second world record this week, lowering the 400m individual medley mark on Saturday.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old who trains in Sarasota, Florida, clocked 4 minutes, 25.87 seconds at the Canadian Championships in Toronto.

She took down Hungarian Katinka Hosszu‘s world record of 4:26.36 from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Before Saturday, McIntosh had the fourth-fastest time in history of 4:28.61.

“It’s always nice to set world records,” McIntosh said.

On Tuesday, McIntosh broke the 400m freestyle world record, becoming the youngest swimmer to break a world record in an individual Olympic event since Katie Ledecky in 2013.

McIntosh also this week became the fourth-fastest woman in history in the 200m individual medley and the eighth-fastest woman in history in the 200m butterfly.

In each of her four races this week, she also broke the world junior record as the fastest woman in history under the age of 19.

She is entered to swim the 200m free on the meet’s final day on Sunday. She is already the eighth-fastest woman in history in that event.

McIntosh, whose mom swam the 1984 Olympic 200m fly and whose sister competed at last week’s world figure skating championships, placed fourth in the Tokyo Olympic 400m free at age 14.

Last summer, she won the 200m fly and 400m IM at the world championships, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

This summer, she could be at the center of a showdown in the 400m free at the world championships with reigning world champion Ledecky and reigning Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia. They are the three fastest women in history in the event.

Around age 7, McIntosh transcribed Ledecky quotes and put them on her wall.

MORE: McIntosh chose swimming and became Canada’s big splash

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Hilary Knight leads new-look U.S. women’s hockey roster for world championship

Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight headlines a U.S. women’s hockey roster for this month’s world championship that lacks some of the biggest names from last year’s Olympic silver-medal team. Changes have been made as the U.S. looks to end losing streaks to Canada, both overall and in major finals.

The full roster is here. Worlds start Wednesday in Brampton, Ontario, and run through the gold-medal game on April 16.

It was already known that the team would be without stalwart forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield, who plans to return to the national team after having her first child this summer, and Brianna Decker, who announced her retirement last month.

Notable cuts include the No. 1 goalies from the last two Olympics: Alex Cavallini, who returned from Christmas childbirth for the tryout camp this past week, and Maddie Rooney, the breakout of the 2018 Olympic champion team.

Cavallini, 31, was bidding to become the first player to make an Olympic or world team after childbirth since Jenny Potter, who played at the Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010 as a mom, plus at several world championships, including less than three months after childbirth in 2007.

Forward Hannah Brandt, who played on the top line at last year’s Olympics with Knight and Coyne Schofield, also didn’t make the team.

In all, 13 of the 25 players on the team are Olympians, including three-time Olympic medalists forward Amanda Kessel and defender Lee Stecklein.

The next generation includes forward Taylor Heise, 23, who led the 2022 World Championship with seven goals and was the 2022 NCAA Player of the Year at Minnesota.

The team includes two teens — 19-year-old defender Haley Winn and 18-year-old forward Tessa Janecke — who were also the only teens at last week’s 46-player tryout camp. Janecke, a Penn State freshman, is set to become the youngest U.S. forward to play at an Olympics or worlds since Brandt in 2012.

Abbey Levy, a 6-foot-1 goalie from Boston College, made her first world team, joining veterans Nicole Hensley and Aerin Frankel.

Last summer, Canada repeated as world champion by beating the U.S. in the final, six months after beating the U.S. in the Olympic final. Canada is on its longest global title streak since winning all five Olympic or world titles between 1999 and 2004.

Also at last summer’s worlds, the 33-year-old Knight broke the career world championship record for points (now up to 89). She also has the most goals in world championship history (53). Knight, already the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player in history, will become the second-oldest American to play at a worlds after Cammi Granato, who was 34 at her last worlds in 2005.

The Canadians are on a four-game win streak versus the Americans, capping a comeback in their recent seven-game rivalry series from down three games to none. Their 5-0 win in the decider in February was their largest margin of victory over the U.S. since 2005.

Last May, former AHL coach John Wroblewski was named U.S. head coach to succeed Joel Johnson, the Olympic coach.

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