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Michelle Akers’ Olympic, World Cup gold medals being auctioned

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Michelle Akers‘ gold medal from the 1996 Atlanta Games, where women’s soccer debuted at the Olympics, is being auctioned from Sept. 23-Oct. 19 on GoldinAuctions.com.

The collection includes 60 lots of memorabilia consigned by the Hall of Famer, including all of her major tournament gold medals — 1991 World Cup, 1996 Olympics and 1999 World Cup.

It also includes her 1996 Olympic final match-worn jersey and shorts. The catalog, consigned by Akers, will be posted online on Sept. 22, according to Goldin.

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Michelle Akers Horse Rescue and Outreach Foundation.

Akers previously put memorabilia up for auction on eBay in 2015, though it’s unclear whether the Olympic and World Cup medals were among the items and, if so, if they were sold.

Akers played 153 matches for the U.S. from its inception in 1985, scoring its first goal, through 2000. She retired as its second-leading goal scorer with 107 behind Mia Hamm. She is now tied for fifth with Alex Morgan behind Abby Wambach, Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd.

At the 1996 Atlanta Games, a 30-year-old Akers was the second-oldest U.S. player to see match action. She received regular post-match IVs to combat a blood pressure disorder associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. “I consider this an out and out miracle,” she said of the gold medal.

Akers made the 2000 Olympic team, where she would have been the oldest player of the tournament, but retired two weeks before the Games, needing shoulder surgery. Akers also underwent at least a dozen knee surgeries in her career.

She was named FIFA Player of the Century along with Chinese Sun Wen in 2002.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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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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MORE: AL MVP nixes unretirement for Olympic baseball qualifying

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.