Hideki Matsuyama
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Hideki Matsuyama skips Olympics due to Zika virus

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama said Sunday he was pulling out of the Olympics because of the Zika virus, making him the seventh golfer to cite the mosquito-borne virus for sitting out golf’s return to the Olympics after 112 years.

Matsuyama, who won the Phoenix Open earlier this year in a playoff for his second PGA Tour victory, told Japanese reporters of his decision after he finished the Bridgestone Invitational. He later issued a statement through his management company.

“Although I am excited that golf is returning to the Olympics and I realize that my potential success would help grow the game in Japan, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot put myself or my team member’s health at risk,” he said.

That makes seven players from the top 25 in the world who have said they are not going to Rio next month. The others are Jason Day and Adam Scott of Australia, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and the South African trio of Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

Of the 11 golfers who said they would not go, seven specifically cited Zika.

Brazil has been the hardest hit of the approximately 60 countries that have reported an outbreak of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults.

“I have been getting information from all the concerned parties as well as my doctors about the situation in Rio, but I cannot be 100 percent sure about my safety, and my team’s safety, from the Zika virus,” Matsuyama said. “Additionally, my body has a tendency to react strongly to insect bites.”

He called the choice “heart wrenching” not to go to the Olympics.

His announcement capped a tough week for golf, which last was part of the Olympics in 1904. Day is the No. 1 player in the world and said on Tuesday he would not be going. Shane Lowry said Wednesday that he was too concerned about the Zika risk because he married in April and wants to start a family.

Jordan Spieth said he remained undecided.

Golf is assured of being part of the Tokyo Games, though the International Olympic Committee votes next year to determine if the sport will be part of the program beyond 2020.

With one week remaining before qualifying ends through the world ranking, Japan’s two spots currently would go to Hideto Tanihara and Yuka Ikeda. Tanihara won on the Japan Golf Tour on Sunday to move into the No. 2 spot among Japanese players even before Matsuyama withdrew.

Each country is allowed two players until the 60-man field is set, with a maximum of four players provided they are among the top 15 in the world.

MORE: Golf faces uncertain Olympic future due to dropouts

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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MORE: World Wrestling Championships TV Schedule

Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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MORE: 2019 Senior Grand Prix assignments