Other Sports

Many a star won’t dazzle at Rio

KEEPING AWAY: After a hectic NBA season, the talismanic LeBron James, who has two Olympic golds, has decided not to be part of the US basketball team.  

When Swiss great Roger Federer announced that injury concerns had forced him out of Rio 2016, it dawned on tennis fans that he may have lost a final chance to add an Olympic singles gold medal to an impressive list of triumphs.

At 34, time is running out for the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

It appears that Federer will have to be content with the doubles title won in Beijing 2008 and the singles silver medal gained at London 2012.

While Federer had little choice but to skip Olympic duty, USA’s basketball superstar LeBron James simply opted out. James, the finals MVP in Cleveland Cavaliers’s march to the NBA title recently, stated that he could use the rest.

His chief rival in that final, Golden State Warriors’s shooting machine Stephen Curry, also made himself unavailable for selection, citing “several factors,” including ankle and knee injuries.

Argentina’s football magician, Lionel Messi, walked a similar path. A packed season — for both club and country — would leave him exhausted, and his intentions to withdraw were first revealed six months ago.

This intent gained credence when the playmaker retired from international football, after failing to guide Argentina past Chile in the Copa America final.

The case of Yelena Isinbayeva is a study in contrast. The two-time Olympic pole vault champion fought the IAAF’s decision to enforce a blanket ban on Russian track and field athletes, following claims that the country ran a State-sponsored doping programme. Her appeal for exemption was rejected by the IAAF on Friday.

At a ceremony held at Moscow for Russia’s Rio-bound athletes, an emotional Yelena called on her peers to “show them what you’re able to do — for yourself and for us (banned athletes) too.”

Closer to home, Mary Kom battled the odds and came up short as well.

The five-time world amateur champion and 2012 London Games bronze medallist failed to make the cut after a poor show in the qualification events. A last-ditch attempt to obtain a tripartite commission place fell flat too. The 33-year-old later apologised to the nation, saying, “to the people of India, I am so sorry.”

Other notable absentees:

Basketball (USA unless specified): Injury: Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol (Spain), Blake Griffin. Others: James Harden (unspecified reasons), Russell Westbrook (unspecified reasons), Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia, training with his NBA team)

Golf: Zika concerns: Jason Day (Australia, World No.1), Dustin Johnson (USA, World No. 2), Jordan Spieth (USA, World No.3), Rory McIlroy (Ireland, World No. 4) and Vijay Singh (Fiji stalwart). Injury: Tiger Woods (USA).

Tennis: Zika concerns: Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic, World No. 8), Milos Raonic (Canada, World No. 7), Simona Halep (Romania, women’s World No. 5). Suspended: Maria Sharapova (Russia).

Cycling: Alberto Contador (Spain’s two-time Tour de France winner, injury).

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 12:41:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/Many-a-star-won%E2%80%99t-dazzle-at-Rio/article14545978.ece

Next Story