Vashti Cunningham becomes youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in 36 years

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EUGENE, Ore. — Vashti Cunningham clinched a Rio Olympic berth in the high jump on Sunday and, at age 18, became the youngest U.S. Olympian in the sport since 1980.

Cunningham, the daughter of retired NFL All-Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, finished second to Chaunté Lowe, a mother of three and veteran of three Olympic teams. Inika McPherson was third to round out the Olympic team.

“To be able to go to the Olympics, I’m more happy than disappointed about finishing second,” said Cunningham, who received tips from her father and coach during the competition and then a hug afterward. “I always want to win, but this is something that will hit me on the head and make me work harder. I’ve got more motivation for Rio.”

On March 20, Cunningham won the world indoor title in nearby Portland, clearing 1.96 meters to beat a field largely lacking top Olympic medal contenders. She turned professional and signed with Nike a day later.

Before Cunningham made the Rio team, the youngest U.S. track and field Olympian since 1980 was Allyson Felix, who was also 18 at the 2004 Athens Games, where she earned 200m silver.

In Rio, Cunningham could be a medal favorite. The best non-American clearance in the world this year is 1.99 meters by Poland’s Kamila Licwinko. Cunningham cleared 1.99 meters at the U.S. indoor championships on March 12. Lowe cleared 2.01 meters on Sunday.

Plus, the reigning Olympic and world champions are from Russia, whose track and field federation has been banned from Rio. Individual Russian athletes are expected to appeal for Olympic inclusion, though.

Cunningham’s older brother, also named Randall, is to compete in the men’s high jump at Trials on Friday and next Sunday. He is not favored to make the Olympic team.

“This is greater than anything I’ve ever done,” the retired quarterback told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It’s always better when you’re seeing your kids doing it.”

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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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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