China leaves 5-time gold medalist off preliminary Olympic roster

Zou Kai
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One member of China’s preliminary Olympic men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics teams for Rio has previous Olympic experience.

China named five-man and five-woman rosters, plus three alternates each, after its National Championships ended over the weekend, according to Chinese media reports.

The Olympic rosters must still be approved by Chinese sports officials, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The preliminary men’s team, seeking a third straight Olympic title, includes 2012 Olympian Zhang Chenglong and four Olympic rookies — Deng Shudi, Lin Chaopan, You Hao and Liu Yang.

All five gymnasts were on China’s 2014 and 2015 World Championships teams. In 2015, Japan snapped China’s World team title-winning streak that had dated to 2003.

Deng is an Olympic all-around contender after taking bronze at Worlds behind Kohei Uchimura and Manrique Larduet.

The most notable omission was Zou Kai, who earned Olympic team and floor exercise gold in 2008 and 2012 and high bar gold in 2008.

Zou competed at none of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Worlds but did take 2014 Asian Games titles on floor and high bar. He returned for last week’s National Championships but has been struggling with reported injuries.

The preliminary women’s team is entirely new from 2012, when China finished fourth at the Olympics.

Shang Chunsong, Fan Yilin, Mao Yi and Wang Yan were all on the 2015 World Championships team that took silver. They’re slated to be joined in Rio by Liu Tingting, who has no Worlds experience.

Shang could challenge for the Olympic all-around podium, as she finished fourth behind Simone BilesGabby Douglas and Larisa Iordache at Worlds last year. Iordache might not compete at the Olympics due to injury and Romania not qualifying a full team for Rio.

The biggest women’s omission was Olympian Yao Jinnan, the 2014 World uneven bars champion who has dealt with recent injury and missed the 2015 Worlds.

VIDEO: Inside Liang Chow’s gymnastics center

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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