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U.S. women’s rugby moving into role of Olympic favorites

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The U.S. women picked up where they left off in the World Rugby Sevens Series on Sunday, winning the first event of the 2019-20 series at home in Glendale, Colo.

While the score in the final (26-7 over Australia) looked convincing, the path to victory was bumpy. The U.S. dropped a group-stage game 24-14 to France, then capped a quarterfinal rally over Canada in spectacular fashion when Cheta Emba raced more than half the length of the field for a last-second try and a 29-26 win.

The semifinal with New Zealand went back and forth, with Lauren Doyle making a clutch defensive play and a late try to stake the U.S. to a 19-12 lead. New Zealand scored a last-second try to cut it to 19-17, but the U.S. defense forced New Zealand wide to try the game-tying conversion from an acute angle, and the kick went wide.

The final against Australia was tied until just before halftime, when Ilona Maher forced the ball over the line for a 12-7 U.S. lead. Nicole Heavirland accounted for all of the scoring in the second half with two tries and a conversion.

Last year, the U.S. took second place in the season-opening event in Glendale and took three third-place finishes before winning the season-ending tournament in Biarritz, France. The women finished second on the season, clinching a berth in the 2020 Olympics.

The U.S. also has a strong presence in men’s sevens. The men’s team matched the women by finishing second overall last season after holding the lead late in the series, ensuring their presence in Tokyo next summer. The men’s 2019-20 World Series starts later in the year.

Rugby union’s traditional 15-a-side game, like soccer and cricket, has a richer history in Europe and several Southern Hemisphere nations than it has in the United States. The U.S. men have only won three World Cup games in their history and are currently laboring through the Group of Death in this year’s Cup.

The women, like their soccer counterparts, gained a head start on countries that have less of a women’s sports tradition, winning the first World Cup in 1991 and taking second place in 1994 and 1998. But with other countries catching up, the women didn’t reach the semifinals again until 2017, when they lost to France 31-23 in the bronze medal game.

Sevens has been played since the late 19th century, but international play only ratcheted up 20 years ago with the introduction of the World Series. The women’s series launched in 2012.

The 2018-19 season was the best in U.S. women’s sevens history. Until then, the best U.S. finish was fourth in the inaugural, abbreviated World Series of 2012-13. The men also had bounced around fifth and sixth place overall for a few seasons before finishing second last year.

Both teams will be hoping to improve on their performances from 2016, when rugby sevens debuted in the Olympics. The men opened with a 26-0 rout over host Brazil but gave up a last-second lead against Argentina and wound up missing out on the quarterfinals by a single point. The women reached the quarterfinals but were shut out 5-0 by New Zealand.

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2019 World Gymnastics Championships men’s finals qualifiers

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Full list of men’s qualifiers (with qualifying scores) for the world gymnastics championships team final (Wednesday), all-around final (Friday) and apparatus finals (Saturday and Sunday) 

Team Qualifying
1. Russia — 259.928
2. China — 258.354
3. Japan — 258.026
4. Ukraine — 253.528
5. Great Britain — 252.409
6. Switzerland — 251.400
7. United States — 250.359
8. Taiwan — 250.093

All-Around Qualifying
1. Nikita Nagornyy (RUS) — 87.333
2. Artur Dalaloyan (RUS)  — 86.531
3. Xiao Ruoteng (CHN)  — 85.831
4. Kaya Kazuma (JPN)  — 85.731
5. Sun Wei (CHN)  — 84.899
6. Petro Pakhniuk (UKR)  — 84.598
7. Lee Chih Kai (TPE)  — 84.481
8. Oleg Verniaiev (UKR)  — 84.299
9. Pablo Braegger (SUI)  — 83.505
10. Yul Moldauer (USA) — 82.898
11. Oliver Hegi (SUI) — 82.831
12. Andreas Toba (GER) — 82.781
13. Tang Chia-Hung (TPE) — 82.763
14. Joe Fraser (GBR) — 82.565
15. Kim Hansol (KOR) — 82.431
16. Yulo Carlos Edriel (PHI) — 82.164
17. Abad Nestor (ESP) — 81.932
18. James Hall (GBR) — 81.930
19. Manrique Larduet (CUB) — 81.898
20. Caio Souza (BRA) — 81.897
21. Lee Junghyo (KOR) — 81.830
22. Ludovico Edalli (ITA) — 81.698
23. Milad Karimi (KAZ) — 81.599
24. Sam Mikulak (USA) — 81.598

MORE: Worlds TV/Stream Schedule

Horizontal Bar Qualifying
1. Tang Chia-Hung (TPE) — 14.933
2. Sam Mikulak (USA) — 14.866
3. Tin Srbic (CRO) — 14.833
4. Arthur Mariano (BRA) — 14.600
5. Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) — 14.433
6. Lin Chaopan (CHN) — 14.433
7. Tyson Bull (AUS) — 14.366
8. Daiki Hashimoto (JPN) — 14.366

Parallel Bars Qualifying
1. Lukas Dauser (GER) — 15.033
2. Petro Pakhniuk (UKR) — 15.033
3. Joe Fraser (GBR) — 15.000
4. Xiao Ruoteng (CHN) — 14.966
5. Ferhat Arican (TUR) — 14.933
6. Sun Wei (CHN) — 14.800
7. Ahmet Onder (TUR) — 14.800
8. Kazuma Kaya (JPN) — 14.800

Vault Qualifying
1. Yang Hakseon (KOR) — 14.933
2. Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) — 14.716
3. Shek Wai Hung (HKG) — 14.666
4. Igor Radvilov (UKR) — 14.666
5. Le Thang Tung (VIE) — 14.633
6. Marian Dragulescu (ROU) — 14.624
7. Nikita Nagornyy (RUS) — 14.616
8. Dominick Cunningham (GBR) — 14.566

Floor Exercise Qualifying
1. Artem Dolgopyat (ISR) — 15.033
2. Lin Chaopan (CHN) — 14.933
3. Nikita Nagornyy (RUS) — 14.900
4. Xiao Ruoteng (CHN) — 14.833
5. Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) — 14.733
6. Kim Hansol (KOR) — 14.666
7. Yulo Carlos Edriel (PHI) — 14.633
8. Dominick Cunningham (GBR) — 14.600

Pommel Horse Qualifying
1. Max Whitlock (GBR) — 15.266
2. Rhys McClenaghan (IRL) — 15.200
3. Lee Chih Kai (TPE) — 14.966
4. Zou Jingyuan (CHN) — 14.958
5. Daiki Hashimoto (JPN) — 14.883
6. Shiao Yu-Jan (TPE) — 14.683
7. Cyril Tommasone (FRA) — 14.666
t-8. Kazuma Kaya (JPN) — 14.633
t-8. David Belyavskiy (RUS) — 14.633

Rings Qualifying
1. Ibrahim Colak (TUR) — 14.858
2. Arthur Zanetti (BRA) — 14.700
3. Samir Ait Said (FRA) — 14.700
4. Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) — 14.700
5. Marco Lodadio (ITA) — 14.666
6. Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 14.600
7. Nick Klessing (GER) — 14.566
8. Artur Tovmasyan (ARM) — 14.566

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Dutch cyclist fractures neck and back in collision with car on race course

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Team Sunweb cyclist Edo Maas of the Netherlands is in stable condition after suffering neck, back and facial fractures when he hit a car that had wandered onto a fast downhill portion of the Piccolo Lombardia race on Sunday, his team reported.

“Edo is currently sedated, he is stable and his life is not at threat,” the team announced. “He has sustained fractures to his neck, back and face. Further investigations are ongoing to determine the full extent of his injuries.”

Maas was descending the Madonna del Ghisallo, a popular cycling path that featured in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Edouard Bonnefoix, who was riding with Maas on the slope, said the car’s presence surprised the riders as they came out of a bend.

“A car crossed the road from the right,” Bonnefoix said in Twitter comments reported by CyclingNews and Wielerflits. “I don’t know how that was possible, but I think the driver came from his private land and didn’t see us coming.”

The 19-year-old cyclist finished fourth in last year’s Paris-Roubaix Juniors race. The Piccolo Lombardia race also is for young cyclists.