Tejay van Garderen
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Tejay van Garderen opts out of Olympic consideration due to Zika virus

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Top American cyclist Tejay van Garderen withdrew from Rio Olympic team consideration due to Zika virus concerns, USA Cycling confirmed Thursday.

Van Garderen, 27, said his wife is pregnant with their second child, according to multiple reports. The U.S. Olympic road cycling team has not yet been named, but Van Garderen competed in the 2012 Olympics and has been one of the elite American Grand Tour riders in recent years.

“If Jessica were not pregnant right now, assuming I was selected, I would go,” van Garderen said, according to Cyclingtips.com. “But the fact is, she is pregnant. If we were just going to start trying, I’d say we could start trying six months after the Olympics. But when she has a baby in her belly, I don’t want to take any chances.”

Van Garderen also said scheduling played a factor ahead of the Rio Games in August, according to Cyclingnews.com.

“I looked at my schedule — I do the Tour de France [in July] and then I get to go home,” he said, according to the report. “I won’t have anything in the back of my mind — having to stay sharp the day after Paris. I can take a breather — I haven’t been home since January — I can spend some time with the family. I’ll come back and race the Vuelta [a España in late August and September].”

Van Garderen finished fifth in the Tour de France in 2012 and 2014, the best American finishes since 2008. He was 104th in the 2012 Olympic road race.

“People are probably going to have different opinions on this. I’m sure they will think what they are going to think, but the fact is, if anything were to happen, I couldn’t live with myself,” van Garderen said, according to Cyclingtips.com. “I’m much more at ease with this decision than I would be if I were trying to go to the Olympics.

“Besides, I don’t think this will be my last chance to go to the Olympics. I’m sure I’ll still be around in four years.”

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Leanne Smith leads U.S. gold medalists at para swim worlds

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Leanne Smith has never competed at a Paralympics. Came into this week’s world championships with zero world medals. But she leaves London with three individual golds, most for any American, one year before the Tokyo Games.

Smith, 21, won the 150m individual medley, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle in her classification, all in American record times. The last two titles came on the final day of the seven-day meet on Sunday.

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. By 2017, she broke a world record and then debuted at the world championships with a best individual finish of sixth.

The U.S. finished with 35 total medals and 14 golds, ranking sixth in the overall standings. Ukraine, usually strong at the Paralympics, led the way with 55 medals. Full results are here.

Jessica Long, the second-most-decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals, earned six this week — five silvers and a bronze — to give her 52 career world championships medals.

Two-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann earned two golds this week, giving her 15 world titles in three appearances (her others being in 2009 and 2010).

She won 50m titles in the butterfly and freestyle. Weggemann won a 2012 Paralympic 50m free title but was fortunate just to make it back for Rio after a 2014 accident that she said was harder to come back from than her teenage paralysis. She left Rio with no medals but a resolve to return for a third Games in Tokyo.

“I’m two seconds away from bursting into tears,” Weggemann said after winning the first of her two golds in the 50m fly, according to U.S. Paralympics. “I had a really rough go these past three years since Rio, so to finally be back after busting my butt to be here, and to be here in London of all places, is absolutely incredible.”

Fellow Rio Paralympians McKenzie Coan and Robert Griswold added two golds a piece.

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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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