James Harden is 8th U.S. basketball withdrawal; who remains?

James Harden
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Houston Rockets guard James Harden is the eighth of 31 USA Basketball finalists to withdraw from Olympic team consideration before the 12-man roster is expected to be named June 27.

Harden, one of four to withdraw this week and the fifth withdrawal of the eight overall who had been named to the 2012 Olympic team, did not cite a reason.

Previously, Russell WestbrookLaMarcus AldridgeStephen CurryChris PaulJohn WallAnthony Davis and Blake Griffin withdrew for various reasons.

Most of the eight withdrawals have been due to injury. Nobody has cited the Zika virus.

“As a result of many difficult conversations with my family, the Rockets, and trusted advisors, I’ve notified Jerry Colangelo and Team USA that I will not be competing at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Brazil,” Harden said in a statement Friday night. “This decision was a painstaking one that I did not take lightly. As a member of the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal Team, and as Team Captain for the 2014 FIBA Gold Medal Team, it goes without saying that USA Basketball has provided me with some of the most meaningful personal and professional accomplishments of my life. I have been extremely blessed to wear the ‘red, white, and blue’ and to compete at the highest international level with the greatest players representing the greatest country in the world. I sincerely hope I’ll earn an opportunity to represent Team USA again in the future.”

Harden, 26, was a reserve on the 2012 Olympic team behind Kobe Bryant, averaging 9.1 minutes per game in London. He started all nine games at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and led the U.S. in scoring (14.2 points per game).

The U.S. is now without any guards with Olympic experience, unless one counts Andre Iguodala as a guard.

The U.S. finalist pool is down to six players with Olympic experience. The 2012 Olympic team brought back five players with Olympic experience.

Here are the remaining finalists:

Carmelo Anthony — 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympics
LeBron James — 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympics
Kevin Durant — 2012 Olympics
Andre Iguodala — 2012 Olympics
Kevin Love — 2012 Olympics
Dwight Howard — 2008 Olympics
DeMarcus Cousins — 2014 World Cup
DeMar DeRozan — 2014 World Cup
Andre Drummond — 2014 World Cup
Kenneth Faried — 2014 World Cup
Rudy Gay — 2014 World Cup, 2010 World Cup
Kyrie Irving — 2014 World Cup
Klay Thompson — 2014 World Cup
Harrison Barnes
Bradley Beal
Jimmy Butler
Mike Conley
Paul George
Draymond Green
Gordon Hayward
DeAndre Jordan
Kawhi Leonard
Damian Lillard

MORE: Wiggins skips Canada Olympic qualifying

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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