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U.S. women name Olympic soccer roster, eye 4th straight gold

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The U.S. women’s soccer squad wants to become the first nation to win the Olympic gold medal a year after capturing the Women’s World Cup. Head coach Jill Ellis announced Tuesday the 18 women who will be tasked with accomplishing that unprecedented feat.

The Americans have won the past three Olympic gold medals, to go with silver in 2000 and another gold in 1996.

The squad in Rio will be led by midfielder Carli Lloyd, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and the team’s all-time leading scorer with 87 career goals. She netted the lone goal in the Americans’ 1-0 overtime victory against Brazil in the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game, and she scored both goals four years ago in London in the team’s 2-1 win over Japan.

She’ll make her third Olympic appearance, as will goalie Hope Solo and midfielder Tobin Heath. Solo is set to earn her 200th cap during the Rio Games, making her the first goalie in international soccer history to do so.

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, forward Alex Morgan and defenders Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn are set for their second Olympic appearances. Rapinoe’s inclusion was in doubt after she underwent ACL surgery in December, but she proved her fitness at training camp last week.

The youngest on the squad will be forward Mallory Pugh, an 18-year-old who will be the second-youngest American to play Olympic soccer since 1904, according to sports-reference.com. She’ll be 18 years, 3 months and 5 days old when the Games start; Cindy Parlow was 18 years, 2 months and 13 days old to start the 1996 Olympics. Parlow, however, didn’t score, meaning Pugh could be come the youngest U.S. player with a goal in the Olympics.

Here’s a look at the full Rio roster by position:

Goalies: Alyssa Naeher, Hope Solo

Defenders: Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn

Midfielders: Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd, Allie Long, Megan Rapinoe

Forwards: Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh

Of the 18 going to Rio, 14 were members of the 2015 World Cup championship squad.

“We’ve got excellent balance in the squad, and with some injuries lately to some major players, it has allowed us to get experience for a few newer players which helped them in their cases to make the team,” Ellis said in a release. “Now the task is getting our team 100 percent healthy and finalizing our preparations during the next camp.”

Christie Rampone, 41, was bidding for a fifth Olympics and to become the oldest Olympic soccer player ever, according to sports-reference.com, but December knee surgery dashed her hopes.

Heather O’Reilly was looking to compete on her fourth Olympic team, but she was named only as an alternate, along with goalie Ashlyn Harris, defender Emily Sonnett and midfielder Samantha Mewis.

The U.S. women will be among the teams to open the Rio Games on Aug. 3, two days before the Opening Ceremony, when they take on New Zealand in Belo Horizonte.

MORE: U.S. women learn Olympic soccer group opponents

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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