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Japanese gymnast Uchimura escapes major defeat at the hands of ‘Pokemon Go’

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With the mobile game “Pokemon Go” being all the rage these days, it makes sense that some Olympians would look to do their best Ash Ketchum impersonation while in Rio de Janeiro. With the stress that can come with competing in an event held only once every four years, the occasional diversion from training and competition may not be a bad thing for some. However with the game not being completely supported in Brazil at this time, athletes have been frustrated by not being able to catch Pokemon while in Brazil.

And in the case of Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, the game threatened to hand the favorite to win gold in the all-around competition a loss that goes far beyond simply not being able to play.

Thanks to international roaming charges, Uchimura ran up a bill of some 500,000 yen, which works out to $5,000. To say the least, that isn’t chump change and teammate Kenzo Shirai noted the impact that the bill had on Uchimura.  “He looked dead at the team meal that day,” Shirai said of Uchimura according to the Kyodo News.

The good news for Uchimura is that his service provider has given him a flat rate that works out to a charge 3,000 yen ($30) per day, thus avoiding having to pay the four-figure bill.

Uchimura has won a medal in the men’s all-around in each of the last two Olympics, winning silver in Beijing in 2008 and gold in London four years ago. Add in the fact that he’s won gold in the all-around in each of the last six World Championships, and he arrives in Rio as the clear favorite to once again win gold.

Uchimura may not have as much success catching Pokemon as he would have hoped for given the circumstances. But another gold medal in the all-around (he’s also looking to lead Japan to gold in the team competition) would cement his status as the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport in the eyes of many.

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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