Kenenisa Bekele
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Kenenisa Bekele rips Ethiopia Olympic marathon selection procedures

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Kenenisa Bekele took a swipe at the Ethiopian Athletics Federation on Wednesday after he was left off the marathon team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, calling his exclusion “unjust” and claiming the selection criteria is “biased.”

In an interview with The Associated Press after the EAF confirmed Bekele wasn’t part of the four-man team for Rio, Bekele said athletes were informed way too late that they must run in at least two major marathons in the 12 months before the team was picked to be eligible.

“I am very disappointed by the announcement that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation made about the selection of athletes competing in [the] marathon,” Bekele said in an interview at his office in Addis Ababa. “The selection process was biased and the result unjust.”

The federation’s decision to leave out Bekele, the world-record holder and three-time Olympic champion in the 5000m and 10,000m, was a major surprise.

EAF secretary general Bililign Mekoya told Ethiopian television on Tuesday, when Bekele’s absence was confirmed, that “the requirements we set are clear.”

“In Kenenisa’s case, he hasn’t met the requirements, so he couldn’t make it to Rio,” he said.

Bekele missed most of the last year with an Achilles injury. He returned from that lengthy layoff to finish third at the London Marathon in April. That’s the only marathon he’s run in the last year, although he won the Great Manchester Run 10km last month.

“We were told of the selection criteria too late in the year for us to try and meet any one of them,” Bekele said. “This affected me and a number of other fellow athletes. I cannot get the chance to compete [at the Olympics] now, and there is nothing I can do about it.”

At least 12 athletes have protested to the federation over the selection criteria, although Bekele isn’t one of those yet. Bililign, the EAF secretary general, said athletes are able to lodge protests.

Bekele was one of the greats at 5000m and 10,000m. He has followed in the footsteps of another of Ethiopia’s favorites, Haile Gebrselassie, by switching to the marathon in search of Olympic success at the longer distance.

Bekele won his debut marathon in Paris in 2014 before his injury struggles last year.

U.S. Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying teams named with former NBA player, WNBA stars

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Former NBA player Robbie Hummel and WNBA stars lead U.S. Olympic qualifying teams in the new Olympic event of 3×3 basketball.

The four-man and four-woman teams will compete in a global qualifier in India in March, each favored to grab one of three available Olympic berths per gender for the U.S.

Hummel, who unretired to become world champion in 3×3, is joined on the U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying team by Team Princeton teammates Canyon Barry and Kareem Maddox, plus Dominique Jones, who has played with Team Harlem. Team Princeton is guided by an investment firm CEO who once beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Last year, Hummel, Maddox and Barry (one of Rick Barry‘s sons) were part of a team that won the world title.

The U.S. women’s 3×3 qualifying roster is made up of WNBA stars Napheesa Collier, Stefanie DolsonAllisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. The U.S.’ top-ranked 3×3 player, as of last month, is Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, who can’t play internationally this spring as she is in the thick of the NCAA season.

Olympic teams will not necessarily be made up of players from the qualifying tournament.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely active NBA players will be eligible.

Like with the qualifying tournament, two of the four Olympic players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in FIBA 3×3 rankings (as of a May 22 cutoff).

In 3×3, games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

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First U.S. sailors qualify for Olympics; gold medalist misses on tiebreak

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The first five members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team were finalized this past weekend. The last American sailor to win an Olympic title missed on a tiebreaker.

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (49er FX), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17) and Charlie Buckingham (Laser) qualified after world championships competition concluded in Australia. The U.S. Olympic roster across all sports is now at 43 qualified athletes.

The closest race for a U.S. Olympic spot came in 49er FX. Roble and Shea edged Paris Henken and 2008 Olympic champion Anna Tobias on a tiebreak. Roble and Shea, both first-time Olympic qualifiers, won Saturday’s medal race and earned an overall bronze medal.

That put the two U.S. duos in a tie in Olympic qualifying — combining placements from the 2019 and 2020 Championships, according to TeamUSA.org. The tiebreak went to Roble and Shea for having the better finish at this year’s worlds.

Tobias, a 37-year-old who won the individual 2008 Olympic Laser Radial as Anna Tunnicliffe, came out of retirement in a bid for a third Olympics. She left competitive sailing in 2014, took up CrossFit competitions and returned to crew for Henken more than two years ago.

“We are very sad and upset,” was posted on Tobias’ Instagram, “but we wish them [Roble and Shea] the best of luck.”

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