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Sally Pearson won’t defend Olympic hurdles title after injury

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BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Sally Pearson will not defend her Olympic hurdles title in Rio de Janeiro after tearing a tendon in her hamstring, yet another setback in a year beset by injuries.

Pearson, the 100-meter hurdles Olympic gold medalist in London four years ago and silver medalist at Beijing in 2008, told Australia’s Channel Nine news Wednesday that she was shocked at the extent of the training injury and didn’t have enough time to recover fully ahead of the Aug. 5-21 Olympics.

“I’m disappointed – I’m gutted,” she said. “It’s the biggest sporting event in the world that I’m missing out on. I can’t be part of it, and it’s upsetting.”

The 29-year-old Pearson missed 12 months of competition after breaking her wrist in a racing accident, and complained earlier in the month that her preparations had been hampered by a “niggly hamstring.”

She only returned to competition on June 5, a year and a day after crashing over a hurdle at a Diamond League meet in Rome and needing surgery. She had three races in Europe before returning to Australia to work on her speed, skipping a scheduled run in Stockholm.

Australia’s Olympic team leader Kitty Chiller said Pearson’s absence was “devastating for us and the team.”

“It was always an uphill battle for Sally to get back to her best form in Rio,” Chiller told a news conference in Perth, Western Australia before Pearson confirmed her withdrawal. “If anyone was going to do that, she would have done it because she’s such a huge fighter.”

On June 18, Pearson posted a fitness update on her website, writing how she’d arrived in Birmingham “full of hope and excitement” but was disappointed with her times “and also disappointed that my body was letting me down.”

“This has been a big year, broken bones, torn calf, degenerative Achilles and hammy problems and that’s just with me. Sometimes I wonder why I still continue to do this sport.”

Pearson had strapping on her left hamstring when she raced in Birmingham, and trailed home in seventh place in 13.25 seconds – almost a second slower than her personal best and a time she described as “disgusting.”

But in the week leading up to Monday’s training mishap, the 2011 world champion said she’d felt in her best shape in a year, and was ready to overcome all the setbacks.

“Unfortunately on Monday, my body just didn’t agree with me this time,” she said. “It couldn’t push that little extra bit to the edge. I just tumbled over the edge unfortunately this time, and I tore my hamstring.”

Pearson said she couldn’t risk long-term damage, and a fierce competitive streak prevented her from concealing the injury in the hope of just being able to contest the heats in Rio.

“If I pushed it too early … I could do some serious injury and make it 100 times worse, and maybe not come back from it,” she said in the TV interview. “I could have gone to the Olympics and still competed … (but) I go there for 100 percent effort and I wouldn’t be able to give that effort that I would like to bring.”

Pearson said she planned to take time off and wanted to return in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, being staged near her home on Australia’s Gold Coast

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Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail at world championships, has surgery

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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail at the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title, and underwent leg surgery as a result.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, who had a left leg laceration, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Bologna, Italy, about 25 miles from the worlds host of Imola.

“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been,” USA Cycling chief of sport performance Jim Miller said in a press release. “While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter. With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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