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Two-time Olympic medalist Jennifer Rodriguez to be inducted into National Speed Skating Hall of Fame

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Jennifer Rodriguez, a four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist, will be inducted to the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame, U.S. Speedskating announced Friday.

The ceremony will take place Friday, June 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rodriguez made her Olympic debut at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, where she also became the first Cuban-Amerian to compete in the Games.

At the 2002 Olympics, Rodriguez skated to two bronze medals in the 1000m and 1500m. She went on to compete at two more Games in 2006 and 2010.

“Learning that I was being inducted to the Hall of Fame this year, literally brought tears to my eyes,” Rodriguez said through U.S. Speedskating. “I am so humbled and honored to be able to receive this recognition. So many people have contributed to my success over the years, and this is for them as well. Thank you so very much!”

Rodriguez was one of the first inline speed skating world medalists to transition to speed skating on ice. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in exercise physiology.

Additionally, Paul Marchese will be inducted into the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame as a Contributor to the Sport. Marchese skated for many years at the national level before beginning his coaching and technical career designing and building speed skates. As the U.S. technical coach in the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and private coach in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Olympic Games, his technical innovations reshaped the speed skating landscape. Athletes equipped with Marchese skates have captured more than 130 Olympic medals over the past 30 years.

“I’m so very humbled to receive this honor,” Marchese said. “Speed skating has been a lifelong partner, providing so many opportunities that have defined my life and profession, and continues to bring my path across an incredible world of passionate people. I look forward to sharing an evening with my speed skating family and friends!”

MORE: Brittany Bowe sets world record in 1000m

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David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

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David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

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U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
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The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

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