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

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

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

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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