Manu Ginobili leads Argentina Olympic basketball roster

Manu Ginobili
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Manu Ginobili will try to lead Argentina to a third Olympic basketball medal in four Games, headlining the 12-man roster announced Saturday.

Ginobili, 38 and a national-team player since 1998, was one of four notable members of the 2004 Olympic champion team that made Argentina’s squad for Rio. The others are Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola, both 36, and Carlos Delfino, who is 33, all of whom have played in the NBA.

Ginobili missed the 2013 FIBA Americas, 2014 FIBA World Cup and 2015 FIBA Americas and reportedly said in 2014, “I can say for almost certain, 98 percent, that I won’t play any more [for Argentina].”

He changed his mind in March, making himself available for the Olympic team.

The San Antonio Spurs All-Star led Argentina to gold at the Athens 2004 Games, handing the U.S. its last loss in Olympic competition in the semifinals. That’s the only team other than the U.S. to win men’s basketball gold since 1988. He also helped Argentina take bronze in 2008 and finish fourth in 2012.

Argentina qualified for the Rio Games by reaching the 2015 FIBA Americas final without Ginobili.

Ginobili is so revered that a statue was erected of him in Buenos Aires.

In August, Ginobili will be older than all but one Olympic basketball player since 1992, according to sports-reference.com. The oldest player in that stretch was Puerto Rico’s 40-year-old Jose Ortiz in 2004.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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