Teen has Olympic chance she thought would be 4 years away

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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — Getting cut is never easy. Luckily for Cayla Barnes, she had plenty to take her mind off her disappointment at being dropped from the U.S. hockey team.

First, she graduated from high school. Then, she headed to Boston College, where she played five games with the Eagles earlier this fall.

A call in late October changed everything.

Days after watching the U.S. women lose 5-1 to Canada in Boston on Oct. 25 , Barnes learned she was moving from the bleachers to the bench as a call-up to the national team with the chance to earn an Olympic roster spot.

The defender, who turns 19 on Jan. 7, quickly withdrew from college to become the team’s youngest player, chasing an opportunity that had seemed four years away.

“Once I got cut, they said be ready, keep training, so that was always in the back of my mind,” Barnes said. “I wasn’t expecting the call at all. … This was completely out of the blue.”

The 5-foot-1, 145-pound native of Eastvale, Calif., alerted her parents, notified Boston College coaches and left school to join the national team training in Florida.

“My coaches are really supportive, and I was so excited to come and join this team,” Barnes said. “Though they’ve been hectic, the past … weeks, they’ve been really exciting.”

Barnes helped the U.S. win the last three under-18 world championships, and she also played with the senior national team for two games against Canada last December.

A strong skater with good vision, Barnes wasted no time showing why USA Hockey wanted her on the national team.

She debuted at the Four Nations Cup and scored a power-play goal in the first period of her first game, an 8-2 win over Finland on Nov. 7 .

“For somebody that’s young and just joined the team to show that kind of patience … that’s why she’s here,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

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MORE: Full Olympic hockey schedule

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

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’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

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

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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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