Jarryd Hayne
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Jarryd Hayne, former 49ers RB, misses Fiji Olympic rugby team

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SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Former San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne has failed in his bid to win selection in the Fiji rugby sevens team to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Hayne pre-empted the scheduled announcement of the Fiji team with a Facebook post Monday saying his time with the Fiji squad “has ended.”

The former National Rugby League star who won a place on the 49ers roster as a rookie last year said he met with Fiji coach Ben Ryan last Friday and agreed he hasn’t done enough to win Olympic selection.

He is the second athlete with NFL experience to fail in a bid to make the Rio Olympics. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin previously missed the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team in the long jump.

“As much as I would have loved to go to Rio, I too knew I wasn’t ready yet,” Hayne said. “During my time with the team I pushed my body above and beyond. I used all my experience as a professional athlete and have tried every day and in every way possible to make this team and make it better but unfortunately, time has been against me.”

Fiji will start as favorite to win the gold medal at Rio de Janiero in the first Olympic rugby tournament since 1924. The Fijians won the World Sevens Series title in the season just ended, holding off South Africa and New Zealand, and have won the world championship of sevens in consecutive years.

Hayne was a late addition this season, after quitting the NFL, and struggled to adapt to the pace and fitness demands of sevens in which teams play several matches in tournaments which last two to three days.

“I’ve loved every minute of training with the Fiji Rugby 7s,” Hayne said. “Not only are they back-to-back world champions but they are a bunch of guys who have welcomed me into the team as one of their own family.”

Hayne, who has played rugby league for Australia, said his time with the Fiji team was “an amazing journey for me and a truly humbling experience.”

Hayne’s post suggests he won’t pursue his career in rugby sevens any further. Australian media reports suggest he is likely to return to the National Rugby League, though he is thought also to have been courted by Australian rugby union teams.

“For now, I’ll be in camp with the team until mid-week before heading back home to Sydney for some time out and will determine my next steps from there,” he said. “I’ll enjoy watching from afar and wish the team all the best of luck on their road to Rio.”

MORE: U.S. men draw Fiji in first Olympic rugby sevens tournament

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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