Wrestler goes from living in pickup truck to making Olympic team

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In 2013, Daniel Dennis lived out of a black 1986 Ford F-150 he reportedly bought on Craigslist for $500. The former NCAA All-American had no intention of wrestling competitively again.

On Sunday, he clinched a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.

Dennis, a 29-year-old who came out of a two-year retirement in 2015, beat former University of Iowa teammate Tony Ramos in the U.S. Olympic Trials finals of the freestyle 57kg division.

The triumph fittingly came at Carver-Hawkeye Arena at Iowa City, where Dennis made his name as a two-time All-American.

He was NCAA runner-up in his final collegiate match in 2010, giving up a two-point lead in the final seconds.

By 2013, Dennis quit the sport after failing to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, his battered body no longer wanting to take the punishment.

“Kind of made my way out to California after a long time of not doing much of anything except traveling and [rock] climbing, kind of being a bum a little bit, I guess,” he said.

Dennis didn’t fully disconnect from wrestling while living in a fifth-wheel trailer for two years, after moving out of the pickup truck. He coached for cash and stayed cognizant of the national scene.

Friends and family suggested he test the competitive waters again.

“My mom is a very quiet person,” Dennis said in January. “She’s like, well your dad would’ve really loved to see it.”

Dennis’ father, Tim, introduced his son to wrestling at age 8 and died of a brain tumor in 2014, according to the Des Moines Register.

Dennis took everyone’s advice.

One competition led to another, and he eventually finished second at the 2015 World Championships Team Trials last June, making him an Olympic team contender.

Dennis believed the time off reinvigorated his body and mind.

“Just going and being uncomfortable, leaning how to be happy and keep going, whatever you have in front of you,” he said.

Now, he lives in a house in Iowa City, according to the Des Moines Register.

“I don’t know that I really, necessarily, when I came back, was like, I’m going to be an Olympian,” Dennis told media Sunday night. “Not saying I’m the best, but I think I can beat everybody as long as I wrestle well and solid.”

MORE: Burroughs leads U.S. wrestlers clinching Olympic berths

Mondo Duplantis, Elaine Thompson-Herah win to end Diamond League season

Mondo Duplantis
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Mondo Duplantis completed one of the greatest seasons in track and field history, under some of the most unusual circumstances for much of the year, by winning the last Diamond League meet of 2020 in Doha on Friday.

Duplantis outdueled pole vault rivals Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie in the Qatari capital, the site of his last defeat to Kendricks at the 2019 World Championships.

Duplantis, who was raised in Louisiana and competes for his mother’s birth country of Sweden, won on countback with a 5.82-meter clearance.

Back in February, the 20-year-old Duplantis twice raised the world record at indoor meets, ultimately to 6.18 meters. Eight days ago, Duplantis cleared the highest outdoor height in history, taking Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka off the record books.

Full Doha results are here.

While the Diamond League is finished for 2020, one major event in the sport remains this year — the London Marathon on Oct. 4 at 2 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

The two fastest men in history, Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, headline the fields on an adapted looped course.

In other events Friday, Kenyan Hellen Obiri surged to the lead after the bell in a 3000m that included five women who won 2019 World Championships medals across four different events. Obiri clocked 8:22.54 in the non-Olympic event, holding off world 10,000m bronze medalist Agnes Tirop and world 3000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech.

Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah won the 100m in 10.87 seconds, eight days after clocking the fastest time in the world this year of 10.85.

Thompson, who swept the 100m and 200m in Rio, has traded world-leading times with countrywoman and 2008 and 2012 Olympic 100m champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce the last two seasons.

Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon made a rare 800m start, winning in a personal-best 1:57.68. The only woman to run faster over the last two years is double Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya, who is now barred from events from the 400m through the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures.

Aaron Mallett won the 110m hurdles in a personal-best 13.15 seconds, making him the third-fastest American over the last three years behind Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts. The top three at Olympic Trials next June make the Tokyo team.

MORE: Cathy Freeman reflects on 20th anniversary

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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