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Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd headline U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying

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Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd lead a 20-player U.S. Olympic soccer qualifying roster, which could be a peek at what the team could look like in Tokyo.

The U.S. women, reigning World Cup champions after being upset in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, will clinch an Olympic spot by placing top two at a CONCACAF qualifier in the United States from Jan. 28-Feb. 9.

The Americans played in every Olympic soccer tournament since women debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Given they are ranked No. 1 in the world, and only one other CONCACAF nation is in the top 25 (No. 8 Canada), they will be heavy favorites to reach the Olympic qualifier final.

The qualifying team of 20:

Goalkeepers
Adrianna Franch
Ashlyn Harris
Alyssa Naeher

Defenders
Abby Dahlkemper
Crystal Dunn
Ali Krieger
Kelley O’Hara
Becky Sauerbrunn
Emily Sonnett

Midfielders
Julie Ertz
Lindsey Horan
Rose Lavelle
Samantha Mewis
Andi Sullivan

Forwards
Tobin Heath
Carli Lloyd
Jessica McDonald
Christen Press
Megan Rapinoe
Lynn Williams

The eight players who were named in December to this month’s camp who didn’t make the team: goalie Jane Campbell and field players Tierna Davidson, Midge Purce, Casey Short, Morgan Brian, Allie Long, Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith.

Brian, Long and Pugh made the Rio Olympic team. The Tokyo Olympic team will be 18 players, two fewer than qualifying, with the roster likely to include two goalies.

Competition to make the final 18 will intensify in the spring, in part due to the expected return of forward Alex Morgan from pregnancy. The last two Olympic teams each had four forwards, but new coach Vlatko Andonovski may be signaling a different makeup by putting six on the qualifying team.

Williams and Sullivan are the only two players on the qualifying roster who were not on the 23-player 2019 World Cup champion team.

In 2016, Rapinoe was not on the Olympic qualifying roster due to an ACL tear but came back to make the Olympic team.

Lloyd, who turns 38 a week before the Tokyo Games, is bidding to become the oldest U.S. Olympic soccer player in history, breaking Christie Rampone‘s record. Lloyd and Heath are trying to tie Rampone’s U.S. record of playing in four Olympic tournaments.

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Noah Lyles raises black-gloved fist, wins 200m in Monaco

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Noah Lyles said he had plans going forward to make statements, beyond his rapid sprint times. He did that in Monaco on Friday.

Lyles raised a black, fingerless-gloved right fist before getting into the blocks to win a 200m in his first international race of the season, conjuring memories of the famous 1968 Olympic podium gesture.

He clocked 19.76 seconds, leading a one-two with younger brother Josephus. Full results are here.

“As athletes it’s hard to show that you love your country and also say that change is needed,” was posted on Lyles’ Instagram, along with hashtags including #blacklivesmatter. “This is my way of saying this country is great but it can be better.”

Lyles, the world 200m champion, also paid respect to 1968 Olympic 200m gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos three hours before the race.

He tweeted an iconic image of Smith and Carlos raising their single black-gloved fists on the medal stand at the Mexico City Games. Thirteen minutes earlier, Lyles posted an Instagram Story image of his socks for the meet — plain, dark colored.

Smith and Carlos wore black socks without shoes on the podium to signify endemic poverty back in the U.S. at the time.

Lyles is known for his socks, often posting images of colorful pairs he wears before races, themes including Speed Racer, R2-D2 and Sonic the Hedgehog.

“We are at the point where you can’t do nothing anymore,” Lyles said Wednesday. “There aren’t any rules set out. You’re kind of just pushing the boundary as far as you can go. Some people have said, even if there were rules, they’re willing to go farther than that.”

MORE: Noah, Josephus Lyles take 4-year journey to Monaco

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Joshua Cheptegei breaks 5000m world record in Monaco

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei broke a 16-year-old world record in the 5000m by nearly two seconds, clocking 12:35.36 in Monaco on Friday.

Cheptegei, the 2019 World 10,000m champion who reportedly needed 80 hours to travel from Uganda for the Diamond League meet, took 1.99 seconds off Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele‘s world record from 2004. Bekele is also the 10,000m world-record holder and the second-fastest marathoner in history.

“It took a lot of mind setting to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying at home, but you have to stay motivated,” Cheptegei said, according to organizers. “I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach.”

Cheptegei, 23, came into Monaco as the 73rd-fastest man in history with a personal best of 12:57.41. But he declared before the meet that the world record was his goal, given he had no Olympics or world championships to peak for this year.

“It is very difficult to run any world record,” was posted on the Instagram of Bekele, who is part of the NN Running Team with Cheptegei. “Congratulations to my teammate [Cheptegei].”

Full Monaco results are here. The Diamond League next moves to Stockholm on Aug. 23.

In other events Friday, Noah Lyles easily won a 200m after raising a black-gloved first before the start. More on Lyles’ gesture and victory here.

Donavan Brazier extended a year-plus 800m win streak, clocking 1:43.15 and holding off countryman Bryce Hoppel by .08. Brazier won his last seven meets, including national, world and Diamond League titles in 2019, when he broke a 34-year-old American record.

Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain won the 110m hurdles in 13.11 seconds, overtaking world champion Grant Holloway. Holloway, who won worlds in 13.10 last autumn, finished fourth in 13.19.

Timothy Cheruiyot followed his 2019 World title by clocking his second-fastest 1500m ever. The Kenyan recorded 3:28.45, holding off Norwegian 19-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who set a European record of 3:28.68.

Sifan Hassan, the world’s top female distance runner, dropped out of the 5000m with two and a half laps left while in the lead pack. Two-time world champion Hellen Obiri won in 14:22.12, surging past Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey on the final lap.

Karsten Warholm ran the joint eighth-fastest 400m hurdles in history, a 47.10 against a field that lacked rivals Rai Benjamin and Abderrahman Samba. Warholm, the two-time world champion, ranks second in history with a personal best of 46.92, trailing only American Kevin Young‘s 46.78 from the 1992 Olympics.

American Lynna Irby won her Diamond League debut with a 50.50 in the 400m. Irby, the second-fastest American in 2018, failed to make the 2019 World team. On Friday, she beat Wadeline Jonathas, the top American in 2019.

Pole vault world-record holder Mondo Duplantis needed three tries to clear 5.70 meters, then won with a 5.80-meter clearance (and then cleared six meters). Duplantis, whose mom drove his poles 25 hours from Sweden to Monaco, brought the world record to 6.18 meters in February.

American Sam Kendricks, two-time reigning world pole vault champion, did not compete because his poles did not arrive.

MORE: Noah, Josephus Lyles take 4-year journey to Monaco

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