Andy Murray
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Andy Murray leads Great Britain Olympic tennis team

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Andy Murray and the other three top British tennis players will play at the Rio Olympics.

Murray, who will try to become the first repeat Olympic men’s singles champion in Rio, is joined on the British Olympic team by brother Jamie Murray and the top two British female singles players, Johanna Konta and Heather Watson.

Murray won the then-biggest title of his career at the London Olympics on the lawns of Wimbledon, beating Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the final, one month after his heartbreaking loss to Federer in the Wimbledon final.

Since, Murray won his first two Grand Slam singles titles and vaulted to No. 2 in the world behind Djokovic, whom he lost to in this year’s Australian Open and French Open finals.

Murray returns for his third Games, after debuting at Beijing 2008 at age 21. He is set to play doubles at a third straight Olympics with his brother, looking to better first- and second-round exits at the last two Olympics.

Jamie Murray, ranked No. 2 in the world in doubles, won the Australian Open in January with Bruno Soares, who is Brazilian.

On the women’s side, Konta is ranked No. 18 in the world and Watson is No. 56. Laura Robson, who earned 2012 Olympic mixed doubles silver with Andy Murray, has been hampered by a wrist injury the last two years and is ranked No. 308.

MORE: Wozniacki set for Olympic eligibility hearing

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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