Gwen Jorgensen
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Gwen Jorgensen back on top; U.S. Olympic men’s triathlon team set

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Gwen Jorgensen started what she hopes is a new winning streak Saturday, dominating in her typical style.

The World champion won a World Triathlon Series event in Yokohama, Japan, by 78 seconds in her first competition since her 13-race winning streak was snapped April 9. Full results are here.

Also Saturday, Joe MaloyBen Kanute and Greg Billington clinched the three U.S. Olympic men’s triathlon berths, joining Jorgensen, Sarah True and a to-be-named third woman on the Rio team. The complete U.S. Olympic roster is now at 126 qualified athletes.

Jorgensen made no mention of her previous streak, or her surprising runner-up finish five weeks ago, in a post-victory interview in Yokohama.

“There’s one goal for the year, and that’s the Olympics on August 20th,” said Jorgensen, seeking to become the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion. “Just going to keep building towards that.”

Jorgensen was her usual dominating force en route to her fourth straight Yokohama title, in her fastest-ever time racing in Japan, where her record streak began in 2014.

She quickly erased a five-second deficit following the 1500m swim and 40km bike and gradually increased her lead during the 10km run, her specialty. Her winning margin was among the largest of her 16 career World Triathlon Series victories.

Jorgensen had enough of a cushion that she high-fived fans on both sides of the final ramp shortly before grabbing the finishing tape at the line. She did not appear to be breathing heavily.

Commentators on site marveled that Jorgensen wasn’t sweating and had time to put on a hat before the second- and third-place triathletes completed the course in exhaustion more than one minute later.

However, the Yokohama field did not include Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, who snapped Jorgensen’s win streak in Gold Coast, Australia, on April 9. Jorgensen’s winning time on Saturday — 1:56:02 — was one second faster than Jenkins’ winning time in Gold Coast.

The second-highest U.S. finisher was Katie Zaferes in sixth place. Jorgensen, True and Zaferes are the only active U.S. women to make a World Triathlon Series podium, all having done so at least five times in the last two years, but only Jorgensen and True have clinched Olympic spots.

Zaferes will be the third Olympian unless USA Triathlon opts for a lesser-accomplished domestique for the final Rio spot.

Maloy was the top American in the men’s race in 11th place on Saturday. All three U.S. Olympic team men’s members are first-time Olympians.

An American man has never won an Olympic triathlon medal, and no U.S. man has made the podium of a World Series event since 2009.

MORE: What Jorgensen asked Ironman star Mirinda Carfrae

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

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Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

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Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics