Carli Lloyd
ANA Inspiration/Kelly Kline

Carli Lloyd on retirement plan, career milestones, more in Q&A

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Carli Lloyd, a double Olympic gold medalist and 2015 World Cup winner, shared her time while promoting female empowerment and motivating youth at the LPGA Tour’s ANA Inspiration on Tuesday (Golf Channel broadcast schedule). Highlights …

OlympicTalk: You said last year that the national team was still trying to find its identity (after a 2016 Olympic quarterfinal loss and last-place finish at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup). After winning the SheBelieves Cup this month, has the team found its identity and can you put it into words?

Lloyd: I think it has. Obviously, since the 2015 World Cup, we’ve gone through a bit of a transition period. We’ve got younger players. We’ve got players who came through the NWSL who don’t have a ton of experience. And then we also have veterans as well in myself. I think that we just need to mold all of that together. Now we’re starting to hone in on what this team’s about, how we want to play as a team, the identity. I do think we are an exciting team to watch. As we get closer and closer to World Cup qualifying [in October], obviously we’re still the U.S. team with that fight and that mentality, but we also have a lot of talented younger players to help bridge all that together. Great result, the SheBelieves. Now we can continue to push on. We know that we can continue to get better. We all just have to do our part to keep pushing on.

OlympicTalk: You’re at 250 caps. You’re almost at 100 goals (98). Which of those numbers means more to you and why?

Lloyd: I didn’t even [know I hit 250]. After the game, [coach] Jill [Ellis] said in front of the group, congrats on 250 caps. I had no idea where I was even at. It was a bit of surprise to me. It’s really not about those numbers. That’s entirely not my focus. I’m just mainly focused on getting myself back into the groove and continuing to be better and better every single day. I have a lot more that I still want to accomplish. I think the best is yet to come.

OlympicTalk: You said in 2015 that you plan to retire from the national team after the 2020 Olympics. Is that still the plan, and is there anything that could happen at the 2019 World Cup or 2020 Olympics that could change that?

Lloyd: I don’t live too far in the future. The goal is that I will be a part of 2019, 2020. Obviously, I have to continue to keep performing, first and foremost. But I know that the only person that would hold me back is myself. So, as long as I continue to keep working as hard as I can every single day, I know that I will be at those events. Yes, you have to account for injuries and things that happen, but that’s life.

Editor’s Note: Lloyd turns 38 in 2020, when she will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic soccer player. She came back from an MCL sprain for the Rio Olympics and missed time last summer with an ankle sprain. Still, she won FIFA Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016 and was runner-up to Dutch Lieke Martens in 2017.

OlympicTalk: So are you leaving the option open of playing beyond 2020?

Lloyd: Internationally, most likely not. I have no clue, to be quite honest. I’m not going to rule out potentially still playing in the NWSL. I really have to kind of figure that out after 2020 and see where I’m at. The challenging thing for women is starting a family. That is something that is important to my husband and I.

OlympicTalk: What are the chances you would play for Manchester City or another European club again, knowing that the next two years are major tournament years?

Lloyd: Anything’s possible, but as we’re gearing up for these two world events, most likely not. It’s just not really feasible to be flying back and forth from Europe. My time at Manchester City for those three months was merely just for those three months, at the moment. Enjoyed my experience, glad I did it. I’m not going to say never, but, most likely, probably, won’t be going overseas again.

OlympicTalk: Do you think Hope Solo will play for the national team again?

Lloyd: No idea. I know she’s had some major shoulder surgeries. I don’t know where she’s at on that. I honestly have no idea.

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VIDEO: Olympic gold medalist pole vaults in Michelin Man costume

Kelly Slater has an Olympic decision to make

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Surfing icon Kelly Slater is in great position to qualify for his sport’s Olympic debut in 2020, but he’s undecided about making a required event appearance this summer to stay eligible.

The top two U.S. male surfers in this season’s World Surf League final standings are in line to qualify for the Olympics.

Slater, a 47-year-old, 11-time world champion, is ranked third among Americans through six of 11 events, but the No. 2, two-time world champion John John Florence, is likely out for the rest of the season after an ACL tear.

If Slater keeps up his current pace of results, he will pass Florence’s point total by the end of the season in December.

“It appears as though I have to make a decision [on the Olympics] sooner than that,” Slater said after being eliminated from South Africa’s J-Bay Open in ninth place on Wednesday. “I’ve really got to figure out all the factors around that and make a decision in the next few weeks.”

Slater’s concern is the ISA World Surfing Games in Miyazaki, Japan, in September, an event that top Olympic hopefuls on the WSL tour are required to attend, barring illness or injury.

“I think I have to surf that event, and if I don’t, it may disqualify me,” he said (the International Surfing Association, the sport’s governing body, later confirmed it would disqualify him). “But I’m not sure if I want to go to Japan and compete right now.”

The ISA Games take place in the week between the next two WSL events, the latter hosted by Slater’s Surf Ranch wave pool in California.

“I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Olympics right now, anyways,” said Slater, who last year said he was “50-50” on the Olympics when noting his differing thoughts on the qualification process and venue. “The point is, I’m not really focusing on it at this point. I’m trying to get myself back in the flow of the tour.”

Slater missed 13 tour stops between the 2017 and 2018 seasons after breaking a foot and having multiple surgeries.

He finished fifth, third, ninth, ninth and ninth in his five most recent events to get into Olympic qualifying position. He expected more after placing third in the two contests he entered healthy last season. Slater said he competed at J-Bay after straining his back “really bad” on Sunday, keeping him from surfing the three days before the contest.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, at 48, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, via the OlyMADMen.

“Right now in my head the focus is more on this tour than it is on the Olympics, but we’ll see,” he said. “I was starting this year with a lot of pressure on myself to try and make the Olympic team and think, maybe I’ll retire there next year and that will be the end for me. It put so much pressure on the start of the year for me that I didn’t feel like I could freely compete. It was putting too many things in my head. I needed to let that take a backseat and not worry about it. I’m just not really thinking about it a lot.”

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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China on brink of sweeping every gold medal at diving worlds

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Shi Tingmao joined Guo Jingjing as the only women to win three straight world titles in an individual diving event, giving China 11 gold medals in 11 events with two finals left in Gwangju, South Korea.

Shi, who swept the individual and synchronized springboard titles in Rio, claimed the 3m world title on Friday by 18.25 points with 391 total. Countrywoman Wang Han took silver, 5.8 points ahead of Australian Maddison Keeney.

Americans Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz missed the 12-woman final, placing 14th and 29th.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, is looking to sweep the golds at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after winning all 10 events in 2011. This year’s feat could be more impressive, should China win the last two events Saturday — a mixed-gender springboard and the men’s platform.

That’s because three mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China has not only won every gold but also taken every silver in the three individual Olympic program events thus far.

China is in strong position to go one-two in the men’s platform. Yang Jian and Yang Hao were nearly 70 points clear of the field in Friday’s semifinals.

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule