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Sydney McLaughlin signs with New Balance

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Sydney McLaughlin, who in 2016 became the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to compete at an Olympics in 44 years, has signed a contract with New Balance as her footwear and apparel sponsor.

The 19-year-old turned pro after her freshman season at the University of Kentucky, when she lowered her personal bests in the 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles, all by more than a second, and ran the world’s fastest 400m hurdles of 2018 by .57.

“New Balance has a long-standing history as an excellent running company and they are the perfect partner for me,” McLaughlin said in a press release. “I’m thrilled to join the Team New Balance family, a brand that not only shares the same values and principles that are important to me but also supports its athletes on and off the track.”

McLaughlin, a Rio Olympic 400m hurdles semifinalist, last raced June 9 at the NCAA Championships. She withdrew from the USATF Outdoor Championships later that month, one year after she was sixth at USATF Outdoors in perhaps the greatest 400m hurdles race ever.

She now ranks Nos. 54, 27 and 5 all time in the U.S. in the 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles. Perhaps the only woman who reached anywhere near that versatility was Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who ranks No. 38 in the 200m and No. 43 in the 400m hurdles but never ran the 400m at her peak.

New Balance’s other notable track and field athletes include Olympic 1500m bronze medalist Jenny Simpson, world 3000m steeplechase champion Emma Coburn and Olympic 100m sprinter Trayvon Bromell.

McLaughlin has not announced a new coach after NBC Sports’ Ato Boldon said on the House of Run podcast in July that she and her Kentucky coach, Edrick Floréal, parted.

Boldon believes McLaughlin will lower her 400m hurdles personal best of 52.75 and challenge the world record of 52.34, set by Russian Yuliya Pechonkina in 2003. He also sees McLaughlin becoming a star off the track, given she signed with Beverly Hills talent agency WME.

“Sydney McLaughlin is about to be what Flo-Jo would have been if she was starting out right now in this era,” Boldon said. “She has the look. She has the performance. … It’s going to be an exciting time to watch her rise.”

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is nearly 10,000 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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