Maria Sharapova could be left off Russia Olympic team, official says

Maria Sharapova
Getty Images

Maria Sharapova doesn’t plan to play for Russia in Fed Cup against the Netherlands in the first week of February, which will jeopardize her Olympic chances.

“If she withdraws from playing with Netherlands and we lose the match she will not play at the Olympics,” Russian tennis federation boss Shamil Tarpishchev said, according to Agence France-Presse, citing comments in Russian to news agency TASS.

Sharapova must be part of a Fed Cup team one more time to be eligible for the Rio Games.

Sharapova was named to Russia’s initial team last week for its Fed Cup date with the Netherlands in Moscow from Feb. 6-7. Russia will be heavily favored to advance, since it has seven players ranked in the top 91. The Netherlands’ best player is ranked No. 95.

Sharapova, who lost to Serena Williams in the 2012 Olympic final and again in the Australian Open quarterfinals Tuesday, said after her latest match that she doesn’t plan to play again until March due to a forearm injury that she’s dealt with since before last week’s Fed Cup announcement.

“I’m going to go and take care of my forearm first,” she said Tuesday. “I think that’s really important. I’m going to go to Moscow [for Fed Cup], be part of the team. I don’t think I’ll be playing. Then I’m not sure.

“But I think this will be a time to just get myself ready for a long year. I don’t see myself playing anything before Indian Wells [in March].”

Regardless of if Russia wins or loses against the Netherlands, it will play Fed Cup again in April, but Tarpishchev said Sharapova’s Olympic eligibility will be tied to Russia winning in February.

“If Sharapova wants to compete at the Olympics she has to play for Russia in the Fed Cup,” Tarpishchev said, according to AFP. “That’s the rule, and she needs either to play against Netherlands or in Russia’s next Fed Cup match if we manage to go through.”

The International Tennis Federation said Sharapova doesn’t need to play Fed Cup to be eligible, but she must be on the team.

“In order to complete her eligibility for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Maria Sharapova must be part of the final nominated Russian team,” an ITF official said in an email. “She does not need to contest a rubber, however she must be present at the tie. If she chooses not to join the team for the first round [against the Netherlands], she will have the opportunity to meet the Olympic criteria again in the semifinals and play-offs in April.”

Sharapova missed the 2008 Olympics due to a shoulder injury and the 2004 Olympics because she wasn’t ranked high enough when the Russian Olympic team was determined, before she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon that year.

She carried the Russian flag at the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony and was among the final torch bearers at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

MORE: Serena Williams considers Olympic mixed doubles

NBC Olympics producer Dan Levinsohn contributed to this report.

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics

Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024

The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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