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Alex Ovechkin: I’m still going to PyeongChang Olympics, NHL may be bluffing

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Alex Ovechkin still plans to go to the PyeongChang Olympics and believes the NHL may be bluffing with its announcement that it will not participate in the Winter Games next year.

“I didn’t change my mind, and I won’t,” Ovechkin said Tuesday before a game in Toronto. “It’s [playing for] my country. I think everybody wants to play there, and it’s biggest opportunity in your life to play in Olympic Games, so I don’t know, somebody going to tell me like don’t go, I don’t care. I just go.”

Ovechkin believes the NHL will go back on its announcement and participate in a sixth straight Olympics. He noted that the NHL has not announced its 2017-18 season schedule. It usually does not make that announcement until June.

“If the schedule is going on [during] the Olympic Games, then yeah, you can see they don’t bluff,” Ovechkin said. “But again, still long time. Everything can change. But in my mind, like I said already, I’m going and it doesn’t matter what.”

Ovechkin repeated that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis understands his view. Leonsis has been on the record as being supportive of allowing Ovechkin and other Capitals players to go to PyeongChang without the NHL’s consent.

“I just say my mind what I think,” Ovechkin said. “After the season, we’re going to talk. I’m going to talk to Ted.”

Ovechkin has been saying since 2015 that he will play in PyeongChang regardless of the NHL’s stance. He and Capitals teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov, also a Russian, are the biggest league stars who have been outspoken in this way.

Both Sidney Crosby and Erik Karlsson were asked after the NHL’s decision if they would push for an Olympic spot like Ovechkin. Crosby said he had not thought about it yet. Karlsson reportedly declined to answer.

Ovechkin compared this year’s situation to four years ago, when the NHL didn’t announce Sochi Olympic participation until seven months before those Winter Games. However, the NHL reportedly had a handshake agreement for Sochi in February 2013.

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MORE: As NHL stars react to Olympics, who will follow Ovechkin’s lead?

Mondo Duplantis, Elaine Thompson-Herah win to end Diamond League season

Mondo Duplantis
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Mondo Duplantis completed one of the greatest seasons in track and field history, under some of the most unusual circumstances for much of the year, by winning the last Diamond League meet of 2020 in Doha on Friday.

Duplantis outdueled pole vault rivals Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie in the Qatari capital, the site of his last defeat to Kendricks at the 2019 World Championships.

Duplantis, who was raised in Louisiana and competes for his mother’s birth country of Sweden, won on countback with a 5.82-meter clearance.

Back in February, the 20-year-old Duplantis twice raised the world record at indoor meets, ultimately to 6.18 meters. Eight days ago, Duplantis cleared the highest outdoor height in history, taking Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka off the record books.

Full Doha results are here.

While the Diamond League is finished for 2020, one major event in the sport remains this year — the London Marathon on Oct. 4 at 2 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

The two fastest men in history, Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, headline the fields on an adapted looped course.

In other events Friday, Kenyan Hellen Obiri surged to the lead after the bell in a 3000m that included five women who won 2019 World Championships medals across four different events. Obiri clocked 8:22.54 in the non-Olympic event, holding off world 10,000m bronze medalist Agnes Tirop and world 3000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech.

Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah won the 100m in 10.87 seconds, eight days after clocking the fastest time in the world this year of 10.85.

Thompson, who swept the 100m and 200m in Rio, has traded world-leading times with countrywoman and 2008 and 2012 Olympic 100m champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce the last two seasons.

Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon made a rare 800m start, winning in a personal-best 1:57.68. The only woman to run faster over the last two years is double Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya, who is now barred from events from the 400m through the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures.

Aaron Mallett won the 110m hurdles in a personal-best 13.15 seconds, making him the third-fastest American over the last three years behind Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts. The top three at Olympic Trials next June make the Tokyo team.

MORE: Cathy Freeman reflects on 20th anniversary

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2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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