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Caroline Marks wins first World Surf League title

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GOLD COAST, Australia — Florida teenager Caroline Marks claimed her first title in the World Surf League by maintaining the form that helped her defeat world champion Stephanie Gilmore on her home break in Monday’s final over Hawaii’s Carissa Moore.

The youngest competitor on the world tour at 17, Marks beat Moore by 13.83 points to 11.67 in tricky conditions in the final to clinch the Boost Mobile Pro on the Duranbah Beach break.

Rookie of the year last year after finishing seventh in the world series, Marks became the first woman to benefit from the WSL’s new policy of equal prize money for men and women, winning $60,000.

“I just have so much adrenaline,” Marks said. “I’ve looked up to these girls my whole life and still do, they’re just my heroes.

“It’s incredible. I didn’t know it would happen this fast. I’m just so psyched.”

Marks, who beat Gilmore in Saturday’s quarterfinals, is the middle child of six siblings whose first love was horse riding before she was encouraged by a brother to take up surfing.

“Being around older people, a bunch of older brothers and their expectations of me were so high,” she said. “If I wasn’t surfing like the boys they’d give me such a hard time. I just learned I had to be super good at a young age.

“After I won, the first person I hugged was my brother because I wouldn’t surf if it wasn’t for him.”

The top 10-ranked men and eight highest-ranked women on the 2019 WSL tour will be among those qualifying for the Tokyo Games.

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira executed a brilliant 360 on a late wave to win the men’s event, denying American Kolohe Andino a maiden win in his eighth year on the circuit.

Andino had controlled the final, leading by 6.93 points until Ferreira executed a clean 360 which earned 7.07 points and gave him a narrow win.

The 24-year-old Ferreira finished with 12.57 points to Andino’s 12.43, celebrating his win with a trademark backflip from the stage after the trophy presentation.

“I tried to catch a lot of waves,” Ferreira said. ”(I) knew it was my last chance, thought, ‘Let’s do it, one shot,’ then boom.”

Andino, 25, said he would turn his disappointment into motivation for the next leg of the series.

“It’s a super bummer I wasn’t getting chaired out,” he said. “But it’s a long year, great result and hopefully I can win one soon.”

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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