Andrew Wiggins skips Canada’s Olympic qualifying tournament

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Canada will be without its best player, Andrew Wiggins, as it tries to qualify for its first Olympic men’s basketball tournament since 2000.

“After much thought, consideration and speaking with my family, I will not be participating in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with the Canadian Men’s National Team in July,” Wiggins reportedly said in a statement Friday. “As my third NBA season approaches, I understand my increased role with the Timberwolves and dedication to the upcoming season must have my total focus. We are building a championship contending team, which has always been my goal. This was definitely not an easy decision and I fully support and wish Team Canada nothing but success this summer.”

Canada Basketball announced 19 players for a tryout and training camp from Friday through Wednesday ahead of a winner-goes-to-Rio, six-team qualifying tournament in the Philippines from July 5-10.

The 19-man list does not include Wiggins, who led Canada in minutes and points at September’s FIBA Americas, where the team was stunned in the semifinals by Venezuela, forcing the Canadians to next month’s last-chance qualifying tournament.

It also does not include fellow NBA players Tristan Thompson (playing in the NBA Finals), Kelly Olynyk (shoulder surgery), Nik Stauskas and Trey Lyles and NBA Draft prospect Jamal Murray from the University of Kentucky.

The list is led by NBA guards Cory Joseph and Tyler Ennis.

“Given the time of year, player availability is always changing. We’re continuing to talk to teams and players may become available as the summer progresses,” Canada general manager Steve Nash said in a press release. “Playing for your country is an honour, we have a deep pool of talent who are committed to playing for Canada and we’re ready to get to work.”

Canada will have its work cut out in the Philippines, where the field includes World bronze medalist France, which is expected to be led by Tony Parker.

MORE: Canada’s Rio Olympic promo video shot outdoors in winter

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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