Ole Einar Bjoerndalen
Getty Images

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen undecided on retirement after Worlds success

Leave a comment

Norway biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time, announced after the Sochi Olympics that he would not retire until after the 2016 World Championships at home in Oslo.

The Oslo World Championships are over, and Bjoerndalen is still not ready to hang up his skis and rifle just yet. Not after earning medals in three of four individual races in a stunning success.

Bjoerndalen said he will take the offseason to decide on his future, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Bjoerndalen, owner of a record 13 Winter Olympic medals, had a resurgent 2015-16 season at 42 years young.

He won the first individual World Cup race of the season Dec. 2, his first World Cup victory since Feb. 12, 2012. At Worlds, he finished second to Martin Fourcade in the first two individual races and earned bronze in the mass-start finale Sunday.

If Bjoerndalen makes a seventh Olympics, he could try in Pyeongchang to break his tie with Daehlie for the Winter Olympic gold medals record of eight.

He could also keep countrywoman Marit Bjoergen from approaching his total Winter Olympic medals record. The cross-country skier at 10 Olympic medals took this season off due to pregnancy but, at 35 years old, plans to return.

The most decorated athletes in Sochi — speed skaters Ireen Wuest and Viktor Ahn — are at eight Olympic medals each.

(h/t @st_halvard)

MORE: WADA to consider investigating more Russian sports

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!