Beezie Madden, U.S.’ most decorated female equestrian, to change focus after Tokyo Olympics

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Beezie Madden, the most decorated U.S. female equestrian in Olympic history, announced that she will be changing her competition focus after the Tokyo Games, increasing her efforts in developing young horses and riders.

Madden, one of four riders on U.S. Equestrian’s early Olympic team short list, will continue the selection process for Tokyo, which includes two observation events between May and June. The team is expected to be announced on June 23.

While Madden won’t be actively seeking any future Olympics or international competitions representing the U.S., she hasn’t ruled anything out in the future despite her change in focus.

“I don’t exclude any of that for sure,” she said. “If I happen to still have a horse of the quality, and it looks like we could be a combination to help the U.S. team in any way, in any competition, I’m certainly not going to turn it down. But I would say it’s unlikely that will happen because it’s hard enough to make the team when it is your main focus.”

After Tokyo, Madden will still compete, but she’ll play a bigger role with John Madden Sales, the training and sales business she and her husband, John Madden, run in Cazenovia, N.Y. and Wellington, Fla.

“My focus is just going to switch more from my part of the sport to a little more of the business part of the sport and also helping develop young horses and young riders to the championship level,” she said.

For John Madden Sales, developing a horse typically means jumping training that starts around 4 years old and giving them competition experience all over the world. Horses must be at least 9 years old to compete in show jumping at the Olympics.

In addition, Madden currently has a handful of students who compete in high-level competitions, but she is looking to increase that number and potentially teach clinics and open up opportunities for a working student.

“We look forward to helping a few talented young riders grow in their horsemanship and Grand Prix careers,” she said in a statement on Facebook. “If we can serve the US Team by being a small part of preparing the next generation of horses and horsemen, we suspect those victories will feel just as sweet as the ones we stood in the ring for.”

Madden, 56, is a four-time Olympian and four-time medalist. At the 2004 Athens Games, she took team gold aboard Authentic, one of her most successful horses, in her Olympic debut. Four years later, she and Authentic helped defend the U.S.’ team title in Beijing and also won individual bronze.

After a disappointing London Games in 2012 where the team finished sixth and she and Coral Reef Via Volo were eliminated in individual competition, she secured a team silver in Rio with Cortes ‘C.’ Madden became the oldest female U.S. Olympic medalist in any sport since 1904.

In 2018, she became the oldest rider to win the World Cup Final at age 54 aboard Breitling LS and was the traveling reserve at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. She also won the World Cup Final in 2013 with her horse Simon.

The U.S. qualified for the Tokyo Olympic show jumping team event by winning the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

As the No. 1 ranked U.S. rider based on average points earned, Madden is one of the first four riders on the short list for Tokyo. By April 20, the short list will be expanded to 10 riders who will go on to compete in two observation events.

Madden is also a five-time Pan-Am medalist, most recently picking up team and individual bronze in 2019 with Breitling LS, and a four-time World Equestrian Games medalist (double silver in 2006 and double bronze in 2014). She was the first woman to pass the $1 million earnings mark in show jumping.

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Beezie, John and all of Team JMS want to first take a moment to thank all our friends, fans, and supporters whom have…

Posted by Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc on Saturday, February 15, 2020

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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