Jason Day
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Jason Day hedges Olympic interest due to Zika virus

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DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The Zika virus is why Charl Schwartzel is skipping the Olympics, and world No. 1 Jason Day is starting to think twice about going to Rio.

Speaking for the first time about his decision in late April to pull out, Schwartzel said he and his wife intend to have more children and the risk of Zika is too great.

“If I didn’t want to have children, or if I was single, I’d play,” Schwartzel said Friday at the Memorial. “It’s as simple as that.”

Day has been a strong proponent of golf’s return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, saying a month ago it would be a massive honor to win a gold medal for Australia. With two children, and plans to have more, he began to hedge on Friday.

“It’s difficult to say right now,” Day said. “We’re just really trying to monitor what’s going on because we’re not done having kids. I don’t want to have to bring anything back and have the possibility of that happening to us. Obviously, it can happen here. But if you put yourself down there, there’s a chance of you getting it.”

Brazil has been the hardest-hit of the approximately 60 countries that have reported an outbreak of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults.

Schwartzel of South Africa and Marc Leishman of Australia are the only golfers who have said Zika was directly responsible for them deciding not to play. Leishman, who would have qualified when Adam Scott withdrew, said his wife’s immune system is not at full strength from nearly dying last year of toxic shock syndrome.

Scott, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Vijay Singh of Fiji have said they are not playing, though they did not cite Zika specifically.

Rory McIlroy said two weeks ago that he was monitoring the Zika situation, and while it appeared he left himself room to withdraw, he said this week at the Memorial that advice he has sought out “has put my mind at ease and makes me more comfortable going down there.”

Jordan Spieth said he intends to play.

Day said his concern increased when he read about Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, who contracted the virus in Venezuela during the offseason and was sick for nearly two months. Rodriguez told ESPN.com on Tuesday he wouldn’t blame athletes for skipping the Olympics, especially if they might have more children.

The pitcher said it took him two months to feel back to normal.

“I don’t think it’s an Olympic issue. I don’t think it’s a Rio issue,” Day said. “I just think it’s a medical issue attached to what happens if I go there, get it and bring it back. They don’t know. The recommendation from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is ‘x.’ You don’t know how long it’s going to last in your body. So I’m a little wary about it.

“I’ve just got to make a smart, educated decision whether to go or not.”

Schwartzel and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter and plan to have more children. The South African says he expects more golfers to think hard about going, and he would not be surprised if more pulled out.

“You can hear the guys mumbling about it. It’s definitely stuck in their heads,” Schwartzel said. “I would go so far as to say anyone going is not comfortable going. I think it’s a worry for them. It’s a choice. If it was anywhere else, I’d play. I’d love to play in the Olympics.”

Day also said he was not alone in his concern.

The International Golf Federation is passing along Zika-related material to the tours and player liaisons. Last month at The Players Championship, the PGA Tour made available its doctor for anyone with questions.

“We have to see an independent doctor, not just a PGA Tour doctor,” Day said. “I’m not saying there’s bias. I’m just saying we need independent advice. I think there are a lot of guys on the fence about it because they don’t want to put themselves in harm’s way.”

MORE: McIlroy: If I get Zika, it’s not the end of the world

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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MORE: 2019 Senior Grand Prix assignments