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Venus Williams targets 2020 Olympics at age 40

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Venus Williams is “kind of targeting” the 2020 Olympics, the five-time Olympian said when asked how much longer she will play tennis.

“I am targeting that to see if it’s possible to play there,” Williams said on a Hallmark Channel show that airs this week. “While you’re out there playing, I love that challenge, I love the pressure, it’s all a privilege. If I can be out there, I will be.”

In Rio, Williams won her fifth medal, silver in mixed doubles with Rajeev Ram, and became the most decorated tennis player in Olympic history. And she left the door open for Tokyo 2020.

“God willing, I imagine if I really wanted to be there, I could,” Williams said Aug. 14. “So Tokyo is about if I want to be there. If I want to continue to work as hard. It’s a lot of hard work. I have to want to do the work. So we’ll see.”

Now it sounds like Williams, who will be 40 in 2020, is willing to put in the work.

In Rio, Williams became the second-oldest singles player since the sport returned to the Olympic program following a 64-year break in 1988. If she is back for Tokyo, she will break Jonas Bjorkman’s record as the oldest singles player.

If Olympic tennis qualifying remains the same, Williams will have to be one of the top four Americans in WTA singles rankings come spring 2020 to outright qualify for singles.

Williams is currently No. 17, trailing Serena Williams (No. 2) and Madison Keys (No. 8) and ahead of Sloane Stephens (No. 35) and Coco Vandweghe (No. 37).

If her singles ranking falls, Williams could still make her sixth Olympics in doubles only.

One American has competed in more than six Olympics — equestrian J. Michael Plumb.

MORE: Bryan brothers had mixed doubles partners lined up before withdrawing from Rio

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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