Gritty, valiant, not enough: USA Rugby edged by World No. 1 Fiji

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The United States men’s rugby sevens team entered Wednesday’s Pool A finale against No. 1 ranked Fiji knowing they’d need a shock win, draw or loss by fewer than four to advance to the knockout rounds of the Olympics.

They lost by five.

Tries from Danny Barrett, Perry Baker, and New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner helped the Yanks to a valiant effort, but a late conversion attempt from an acute angle struck the goal post in a 24-19 loss.

USA went ahead through Danny Barrett, who combined grit and agility in racing through the Fiji defense for a try. Madison Hughes converted to make it 7-0.

But Fiji scooped a loose ball moments later to help even the score. Osea Kolinisau had the try and the conversion. 7-7.

Fiji took a yellow card at halftime, but scored down a man through Vatemo Ravouvou. 12-7 Fiji at the break.

The second half saw the Yanks fire out of the gates, with Perry Baker adding a try with another Hughes conversion to make it 14-12. But again, powerful Fiji countered quickly to go up through Kolinisau, who added a conversion to make it 19-14.

Semi Kunatani then got a try to make the advantage 10 with 90 seconds to play. The U.S. would need a try and conversion to go through. They got the try through Ebner, but the conversion hit the goal post.

The Americans showed well despite losing to Argentina in the first match before flattening Brazil in their second appearance.

South Africa, France, Great Britain, Fiji, Argentina, and Japan advanced as top two seeds in their groups. Australia and New Zealand are the two third-placed teams.

The U.S. will now compete in the ninth – twelfth place playoff.

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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