Luka Doncic warns Jay Cutler: Handball is hard

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Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, appearing on the podcast “Pardon My Take”, said he believes he could put together a team that would win gold in Olympic handball (or, as we tend to call it to distinguish it from a sport played against a wall, “team handball”).

The podcast hosts were happy to go along with their guest, saying a team of Cutler, Patrick Mahomes and LeBron James could defeat any team in the world because people in other countries lack arm speed. Former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth agreed, saying on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” that he could replace Mahomes in that trio and emerge victorious.

“You know who plays handball?” Foxworth said. “People who couldn’t make it in soccer, couldn’t make it in football, couldn’t make it in basketball.”

One prominent basketball player emphatically disagrees.

“(N)o chance! people dont know how hard is to play handball,” tweeted Dallas Mavericks player Luka Doncic, who played a bit of handball growing up in Slovenia.

Foxworth’s co-host, Sarah Spain, cast cold water on the idea, pointing to a crew of NFL players who have tried their hand at curling with little success so far. That team initially consisted of former Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, former St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger, former Tennessee offensive tackle Michael Roos and former Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck.

Allen and company made their top-level curling debut in November 2018 against Olympic gold medalist John Shuster and predictably lost. The team also entered the 2019 Challenge Round, a qualifier for the national championships, and lost its three games by a combined score of 27-2.

This year, Allen has brought in Jason Smith, who played in the 2010 Olympics with Shuster and team coach John Benton, to skip the team. The results haven’t been much better through the season, though it did pick up a couple of wins in small events and one win in the 2020 Challenge Round.

Curling took advantage of the publicity boost, though, with Allen appearing at the national championships as an alternate for one team and getting an opportunity to come in and play at the end of a game whose outcome wasn’t in doubt.

The handball community has similarly perked up with Cutler’s commentary. Team Handball News took issue with some footage in the ESPN analysis, saying it was from a residency program at Auburn instead of the current U.S. national team.

USA Team Handball CEO Barry Siff, who joined the federation last year, welcomed Cutler’s interest, as did the team’s official Twitter account.

But they also appreciate Doncic’s take.

Given the rough-and-tumble nature of team handball, would the U.S. be better off with some hybrid of Shaquille O’Neal and T.J. Oshie?

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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