Logan Tom
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Logan Tom continues volleyball career in Indonesia

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The U.S. women’s volleyball team spent January clinching a Rio Olympic berth in Nebraska. Logan Tom, the program’s most recognizable name spanning the previous three Olympic cycles, spent the time moving to Indonesia.

Tom, 34, hasn’t been a part of the national team in three years and doesn’t expect to be called for a fifth consecutive Olympics in August.

But she’s not done playing.

Tom, the top scorer at the Beijing 2008 Games and the “glue” of the London 2012 team, started an abbreviated three-month season for an Indonesian club this month.

“I honestly didn’t know Indonesia had a league,” she said in a Skype interview about one week after arriving. “It was the first offer that piqued my curiosity, just because it’s a new place I haven’t been to.”

Tom was the youngest player on the Sydney 2000 Olympic women’s team, at age 19 following her freshman year at Stanford. She earned the nickname “Doogie,” after Doogie Howser, M.D.

She went on to earn Olympic silver medals in 2008 and 2012.

Tom “tore everything” in her left ankle on a bad landing training for her Brazil club team in February 2013. She decided to return to Stanford to finish her degree while considering if she wanted to continue in the sport.

While back in the U.S., Tom said she told USA Volleyball that she, once recovered from the injury, would be available for the national team that summer, should they need her.

She later received a phone call from Karch Kiraly, a two-time Olympic indoor champion. Kiraly served as an assistant coach for the London Olympic team and was elevated to head coach one month after the Games.

“I got a phone call saying, ‘Thank you for the time you put into USA Volleyball, but we won’t be needing your services anymore,'” she said.

Tom said she respected the decision but was caught off-guard by how the news was delivered.

“It was more how it was done than what was done,” she said. “I thought it was a good relationship [with Kiraly]. He was probably the coach I was most close to, 2012 and before. That wasn’t the best feeling.”

Kiraly declined to discuss why Tom is no longer part of the national team.

“One of the important and difficult parts of this job is that my staff and I, our USA team staff and I, have to make important roster and personnel decisions that can, to some outsiders, appear confusing, even up to enraging, and those decisions have to be made,” Kiraly said in a phone interview.

Tom said she and Kiraly haven’t spoken since.

It’s not always a painless exit when national team stalwarts bow out. Landon DonovanAbby Wambach and Kobe Bryant‘s retirements from international play came under different circumstances, with perhaps Wambach the only one who exited smoothly.

And the fact is, the U.S. women’s national team pool has gotten younger under Kiraly.

The last three Olympic teams, not coached by Kiraly, all had at least three players in their 30s, including five in 2012.

Under Kiraly, the 2014 World Championship-winning roster included one player older than 29. The 2015 World Cup roster included no players older than 28. The 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament roster included one player older than 29. Tom is older than every player on those squads.

Tom, who had played club volleyball in Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Japan, China and Turkey, plus a domestic beach volleyball stint, decided in late 2013 to finish her degree at Stanford’s program in Florence, Italy.

One of her old club managers learned Tom was in Italy, called and asked if she would be interested in playing for a club in northern Italy in 2014. She signed a one-year contract and began a six-hour commute three days per week from school to club.

“It’s always been better for me to be over-busy than under-busy,” Tom said. “I wanted to try playing because I hadn’t played on my ankle in about a year. To see if I could play, if I still loved to play, or if it was something I still wanted to do.”

She still enjoyed it, and graduated, so Tom played another season in 2015 in Cannes, France, ending last May.

“If I don’t know what I truly want to do right now, I still have the option to go play [volleyball],” she reasoned.

She disconnected from the sport over the summer, save a football/volleyball camp with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu in American Samoa. (Tom’s father, Melvyn Tom, of Hawaii, played nine NFL seasons in the 1960s and ’70s.)

Clubs called, but Tom deemed herself unavailable until the intriguing offer from Indonesia to play a shortened, three-month season. She signed in September to start playing in February 2016.

“Short season, three months, which is good for me,” she said. “I grew up playing Asian-style volleyball. It’s my favorite style to play, because it’s more defense and more technical.”

A club in Ankara, Turkey, then requested her services for the fall, so she tacked that on before flying to Jakarta. The 6-foot, 1-inch Tom is holding up well in Indonesia, playing with younger, shorter teammates. Most are Indonesian, except for veteran Brazilian Olympian Mari.

“I’m 34, getting old for any kind of professional athlete,” Tom said. “But I feel really good. It’s funny, when you get older, you learn what your body needs. Working out, keeping in shape, keeping my body healthy has become a lifestyle for me, much more than when I was younger.”

She’s been aided by Dr. Jason Han, a former taekwondo athlete who started HealthFit and is one of the members of the Juice Athlete Compound in Pasadena, Calif. Tom worked closely with Han before heading to Turkey.

“I had been static for about five months and needed somebody to get me going in about two weeks,” Tom said. “He kicked my ass. Every session, there were always about three or four times where I was like, oh my god, I can’t do this.”

Tom’s plan after the Indonesian season is to visit New Zealand. After? She hasn’t thought that far ahead.

“I just kind of go where life takes me,” Tom said.

MORE: U.S. women’s volleyball team clinches Olympic berth

Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

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Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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