Paralympic soccer bronze means pension for former homeless player

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Argentina’s Froilan Padilla said his future was at stake in a Paralympic 5-a-side soccer bronze-medal match.

“It will be the match of my life,” Padilla said, according to Rio 2016.

It was not hyperbole.

Argentines who earn medals also receive pensions after the age of 40.

This fact is especially significant for the 37-year-old Padilla, who struggled for many years without basic shelter.

“I was unemployed and I slept in churches, in different houses,” said Padilla, who has congenital visual impairment.

So Padilla knew the importance of Argentina’s semifinal against Iran on Thursday. A victory would ensure a medal and the financial security of a pension.

The Argentines lost, heartbreakingly, in a shootout. That meant Padilla was left with one more shot in the bronze-medal match Saturday.

Argentina prevailed in its second chance, beating China 1-0 in a shootout. It marked the culmination of a life-changing experience at his second Paralympics. Padilla and Argentina lost the bronze-medal match at London 2012.

“I traveled by plane, which I had never imagined, but I am the same person who walked the dirt roads in my village,” Padilla said, according to Rio 2016. “My present and my future are built by my past, and my past made me grow.”

Rio Paralympics coverage on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app continues Sunday at 12 a.m. ET.

MORE: Paralympics broadcast schedule

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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