Laura Dahlmeier
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Laura Dahlmeier, two-time Olympic biathlon champ, suddenly retires

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German biathlete Laura Dahlmeier, who won the PyeongChang Olympic sprint and pursuit, has retired at age 25.

“After an unbelievably tough season full of ups and downs, I no longer feel the one hundred percent passion required for professional sport,” was posted on Dahlmeier’s Instagram in a surprise announcement. “That’s why I have decided to end my active biathlon career after some time of reflection.”

Dahlmeier earned two golds and a bronze at her second Olympics last year. That came one year after the avid mountain climber became the first biathlete to win five gold medals at a single world championships.

Dahlmeier missed the first two World Cup stops last season due to unspecified health setbacks, including hospitalization in August and September when she feared she may never compete again.

She returned to make three World Cup podiums and earn two world championships bronze medals while still not 100 percent. Dahlmeier posted on her website Friday that she still is not the same athlete she was before the hospitalization.

Her retirement at such a young age is reminiscent of countrywoman Magdalena Neuner, who earned 12 world titles and a pair of 2010 Olympic golds and then retired at age 25 in 2012, citing a similar lack of desire.

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Dear fans, friends, partners and companions – it's time to say goodbye! 👋 After an unbelievably tough season full of ups and downs, I no longer feel the one hundred percent passion required for professional sport. That's why I have decided to end my active biathlon career after some time of reflection. Since my childhood, I have dedicated myself completely to biathlon, I was able to experience incredibly great and intense moments and got to know some wonderful companions and supporters, without whom all this would not have been possible. Many thanks for all the years I spent in this sport – they made me who I am! 🙏 To make room for new adventures, it's time for me to close the biathlon chapter. A detailed report about my reasons for ending my career can be found on my website – link in bio. I am looking forward to what is awaiting me now – see you out there! 🙂 Best, Laura ✌️ #bettertobefAst

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U.S. beats Japan in Olympic baseball qualifier, may still need help

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The U.S. handed Japan its first loss in the Premier12 global Olympic baseball qualifier, at the Tokyo Dome no less, but now the Americans must root for the host nation.

The Americans, with a roster mostly of Double-A and Triple-A players, won 4-3 over a Japanese team that includes some of its domestic league’s biggest stars like two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru and veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Outfielder Jo Adell, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked prospect on the U.S. team, starred by reaching base four times with a home run.

Japan is already qualified for baseball’s Olympic return as the host nation.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a sense of urgency at Premier12, the first of a possible three tournaments in which it could clinch an Olympic spot.

At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams, and two are from the Americas: the U.S. and Mexico.

The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.

Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.

The U.S. moved to 1-2 in the super round on Tuesday and must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas.

Japan could help, since it plays Mexico on Wednesday. If Mexico beats Japan, the Mexicans clinch a spot in the gold-medal game, which would put more pressure on the U.S. to win its last two games (vs. Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday). Even then, South Korea would get into the gold-medal game if it wins out.

If the U.S. is not the top team from the Americas at Premier12, it can still earn an Olympic berth in March. But then it faces trying to come up with a roster at the end of MLB’s spring training rather than during the offseason. MLB teams may be less inclined to release minor leaguers.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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College gymnast dies after practice accident

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An accomplished gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University has died following a serious spinal cord injury suffered in a training accident.

Melanie Coleman, 20, of Milford, Connecticut, was training Friday at New Era Gymnastics in Hamden when she was injured, said her mother, Susan Coleman.

She was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and died Sunday.

Coleman was a former All State gymnast at Jonathan Law High School in Milford and was captain of the school’s gymnastics team. She was named a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American this year.

Her former club coach, Tom Alberti, said she attained a level 10, the highest level in the USA Junior Olympics Program.

She was a junior studying nursing, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, her mother said.

“She’s from a very large, loving family; there’s seven of us, we were the Coleman seven,” Susan Coleman said. “We spent every day together for the past 20 years.”

She volunteered at the gym where her accident occurred.

Her coaches and professors described her as a special young woman who excelled in both the classroom and gym, college President Joe Berolino said in a written statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss,” he said.

People the family has met by traveling to gymnastics events around the country are giving support that is “holding us up,” Coleman’s mother said.

She described her children, which also include two sons older than Melanie, as “inseparable.”

“We’re going to leave an empty space in our photos for her” from now on, Susan Coleman said.