Olympics add 3-on-3 basketball, mixed-gender swimming, track events

FIBA 3-on-3
FIBA
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Three-on-three basketball will make its Olympic debut in 2020. Swimming, track and field and triathlon will also debut mixed-gender relays.

The IOC executive board finalized the Tokyo Olympic program, announced on Friday. It added 15 more medal events, including doubling mixed-gender events from nine to 18. The Olympic program for 2020 will be 339 medal events, up from 306 in Rio.

The IOC called the changes more youthful, urban and female focused. The IOC hopes to one day have an even split of 50 percent male and 50 percent female athletes. There were about 45 percent female athletes in Rio.

The IOC previously added five sports to the 2020 Olympics in August — baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

There are three new swimming events — a mixed 4x100m medley relay, men’s 800m freestyle and women’s 1500m freestyle, all of which are held at the world championships.

Katie Ledecky, who swept the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in Rio, also swept the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at the 2015 Worlds. This boosts her bid to potentially tie the female record of six gold medals at a single Olympics (Kristin Otto, 1988), when including relays.

There is one new track and field event — a mixed 4x400m relay, which is held at the IAAF World Relays.

Three-on-three basketball was on the Youth Olympic program in 2010 and 2014. FIBA has held World Championships (also called World Cups) in the discipline since 2012.

It’s unknown if NBA players would take part in Olympic 3-on-3. IOC sports director Kit McConnell said 3-on-3 players will be “specialists” without providing more specifics Friday.

No U.S. 3-on-3 players at worlds or the Youth Olympics has played an NBA game. Some played at Division I programs such as Connecticut and Gonzaga.

Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, the UConn women’s top two scorers last season, earned 3-on-3 gold at the 2014 Youth Olympics.

Three-on-three is a half-court, one-basket game with two teams of four players (one sub). Typically, game time is 10 minutes or first team to 21 points.

The 2020 Olympic 3-on-3 tournaments will include eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams.

FIBA said it will announce qualification procedures and a competition format at a later date.

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MORE: Diana Taurasi changes her mind about 2020 Olympics

EVENTS – Additions unless specified
Events
Sport Event #
Aquatics (Swimming) 800m (M) & 1500m (W) +2
4x100m Medley Mixed Relay +1
Archery Mixed Team Event +1
Athletics 4x400m Mixed Relay +1
Basketball 3×3 (M/W) +2
Boxing Transfer of two men’s events to two women’s events 0
Canoe Transfer of three men’s events to three women’s events 0
Cycling (BMX) BMX Freestyle Park (M/W) +2
Cycling (Track) Madison (M/W) +2
Fencing Team Events (M/W) +2
Judo Mixed Team Event +1
Rowing Transfer of one men’s event to one women’s event 0
Sailing Transfer of Mixed Multihull to Mixed Foiling Multihull 0
Shooting Transfer of three men’s events to mixed events 0
Table Tennis Mixed Doubles +1
Triathlon Mixed Team Relay +1
Weightlifting Reduction of one  men’s weight category -1

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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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”