Bradley Beal latest to decline U.S. Olympic men’s basketball invitation

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Bradley Beal is the latest U.S. men’s basketball player to decline an invitation to suit up at the Rio Olympics. The Washington Wizards shooting guard released a statement Friday on Twitter.

“I could not be more grateful for the invitation to represent my country, as it is the ultimate honor, however it is with deep regret that I have declined the opportunity to participate with Team USA this summer in Rio,” Beal wrote. “I have made the decision to dedicate this summer to getting in the best physical shape of my life and feel it is imperative that I stay true to my plan so I can be at my very best supporting my coaches and teammates for the upcoming season.

“I wish Team USA nothing but great success and I hope to earn another opportunity to represent my country in the near future.”

Beal is thought to be skipping the Games because of an unclear contract situation with the Wizards. He may be receiving a five-year max contract as soon as next week, but Washington could hold off. If he were to play in the Olympics and get hurt, the Wizards could pull the offer.

Regardless, it’s another guard not going to Rio. Beal wasn’t originally thought to be among the contenders for an Olympic berth, but with guards Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, James Harden and Wizards teammate John Wall all previously taking themselves out of consideration, Beal’s name rose.

Thought to already be on the Olympic roster, which will be officially announced Monday, are perimeter players Paul George, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. Point guard Kyrie Irving of the newly-crowned NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers is reported to still be mulling a decision on going to Rio.

It would have been Beal’s first Olympics, and first international appearance with the senior men’s national team. He previously competed on the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 team and the 2010 FIBA World U17 squad.

MORE: LeBron James to skip Rio Games, according to report

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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